Housing >> Affordability >> Trends

Over the past 25 years, the proportion of King County residents in unaffordable housing has increased significantly. 

Households that pay a high percentage of their income for housing have little left for other necessities. The quest for affordable housing (costing less than 30% of income) can mean moving far from family, friends, work, school, and childcare arrangements. People who live in unaffordable housing may scrimp on food and forego necessary healthcare and medications. 

  • From 1989 to 2002, the percentage of homeowners with mortgages in unaffordable housing more than doubled; the rate continued to rise until 2009 and declined significantly after 2009. 
  • The percentage of renters with unaffordable housing gradually increased until 2005, and has plateaued since then.
  • The percentage of non-mortgage (“free-and-clear”) homeowners in unaffordable housing has shown a gradual but significant increase from 1989 to 2014.
  • Home ownership in King County declined from 63% in 1970 to 56.5% in 2013. The significant decrease after 2008 boosted the demand for rental housing.
  • Millennials aren’t buying: Home ownership rates for young adults dropped from 50% in 1980 to 25% in 2013.