Reports may tout data pointing to a housing recovery, but nearly eight in 10 Americans are unconvinced, according to the How Housing Matters survey conducted by Hart Research Associates.

In the survey, 58 percent of Americans said they believe we are still in the middle of the housing crisis, while another 19 percent said the “worst is yet to come,” which means 77 percent hold the belief that the crisis is still here. Just one in five, or 20 percent, believe the crisis is “pretty much over.”

However, Americans still have a strong desire to own a home, with more than seven in 10 renters aspiring to own one day.

Though, the sense of idealism behind homeownership appears to have faded among Americans.

According to the survey, 57 percent of adults said “buying has become less appealing,” while 54 percent said “renting has become more appealing.”

In addition, 61 percent of adults surveyed believe “renters can be just as successful as owners at achieving the American Dream.” This viewpoint wasn’t just shared among renters. The survey found 59 percent of owners agreed with the statement, along with 67 percent of renters.

Nearly half, or 45 percent, of current owners in the survey said they can see themselves renting at some point in the future.

“While the desire to own a home remains a bedrock principle in American life, this survey demonstrates that the American public’s views about housing are changing, in part due to the hangover from the housing crisis, but importantly, also because of changes in our lifestyles,” said Peter D. Hart of Hart Research Associates.

When addressing the housing “crisis,” 65 percent believe the focus of housing policy should be split between ownership and rentals, rather than just focused on one or the other.

“The emergence of this more balanced view that government support for rental housing and homeownership should be equalized is both surprising and significant,” Hart added. “The How Housing Matters survey underscores that it’s no longer renters versus owners, the haves versus the have-nots, or the young versus the old. There is a new and real acceptance of a more balanced approach to housing policy that puts renting and owning on a more equal footing.”

To 82 percent of Americans surveyed, access to decent, stable housing that is affordable is viewed as a very important factor in a person’s ability to pursue hopes and dreams.

In addition, about 70 percent of adults said they believe government policies that ensure access to decent, stable, and affordable housing leads to a “major positive impact” on the safety and economic well-being of neighborhoods and communities; children’s ability to do well in school; and individuals’ and families’ financial security.

The survey was commissioned by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. For the survey, Hart Research Associates interviewed 1,433 adults, of which about 63 percent were owners and 32 percent were renters. 

by Esther Cho