Housing & Transportation >> Affordability >> Trends

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

FOR THE MOST RECENT DATA UPDATE for rent burden, please see Community Health Indicators

FOR THE MOST RECENT DATA UPDATE for mortgage burden, please see Community Health Indicators

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.