Single Family Housing

A very good article about it, with lots of great graphs and statistics, from New Geography.

An excerpt.

New urbanist utopians love to decry Americans’ love of the single family home, and to extol the virtues of a higher-rising denser city as more efficient and environmentally responsible. Without expounding on the immensely destructiveness of such a utopian viewpoint to physical and psychological well-being of a large majority of people, nor of the scientific absurdity of the claim of efficiency and environmental goodness, I will for now present only some maps and data of what the real world is like.

People vary in needs and preferences over the life course. It is indeed the case that young adults, usually unmarried (and yes increasingly for a longer time), and perhaps a fair share of elderly widows or widower, or even empty-nesters, together as many as one-third of persons, may prefer and enjoy an urban lifestyle, and apartment living. These are the people, for example that are flocking into a growing Seattle, bidding up the price of housing, to take up jobs at Amazon and similar businesses, and even supporting planning calls for replacing a sizeable share of single family homes, with higher density housing.

But this phenomenon ignores the further housing reality that the other two-thirds of people are in families, with children or other relatives, or even unrelated people who rent rooms, who much prefer homes on lots, with some private space. Even those young singles jumping into downtown Seattle may marry, have children, and as they have done generation after generation, and look, yes, for homes with yards and space for a car, so they can go and explore the environs beyond the city….

Table 1 summarizes the national data on population living in different kinds of housing. For whatever reasons you will not find this information in any census publication or city or state reports! They are quite difficult to find and require gleaning from PUMS (Public Use Micro Sample) data.

The key information is that single family homes. Including duplexes for which each unit a separate address account for 67.4 % of occupied housing units in 2010 (61.6 % in totally separate structures), and housed a convincing 217 million, 72.2 % of the population (not including those in group quarters), at an average household size of 2.83. Note well: that’s almost 3 out of 4!

Retrieved August 20, 2015 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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