Housing policy in the United States is very tilted toward trying to encourage people to go into debt to buy houses, so almost everywhere you look more Americans are homeowners than renters. But that's changing. A new report from NYU's Furman Center reveals that while renters made up the majority of 5 out of the 11 biggest cities in 2006, it's now up to 9 out of 11.
The housing bust pushed many people out of homeownership, and student debt burdens and low wages have made it hard for many young people to qualify for mortgages. In an ideal world, we would respond to this by both improving the rental market and by acting to increase the supply of rental housing to increase affordability. Instead, policy has been very dominated by the idea of trying to revive heavily subsidized risky mortgage lending.