Jan 9, 2024 - Development

San Diego's housing shortage explained in one chart

Existing housing units relative to population demand in the San Diego metro area
Data: Hines analysis of Census Bureau and Moody's data; Note: Population demand is a theoretical housing demand metric based on long-term household formation and homeownership rates by age cohort; Chart: Axios Visuals

San Diego is short around 90,000 homes, according to figures global developer Hines shared with Axios.

  • That's in line with an estimate from Ray Major, chief economist at the San Diego Association of Governments, that the region had a 100,000-home deficit after homebuilding failed to keep pace with job and population growth.

Zoom out: The U.S. is short 3.2 million homes, per Hines' analysis, a driving factor in the country's high housing costs, Axios' Sami Sparber reports.

What they're saying: "We're not going to overcome this deficit anytime soon just building single-family housing," Hines managing director Ryan McCullough told Axios.

Of note: Hines compared the stock of existing homes, for rent and for sale, against what they calculated as the population's housing demand for major markets across the country.

  • Nashville, New Orleans and Austin were the only three major housing markets with enough supply to meet demand, Hines found. They were near equilibrium.
  • Los Angeles and New York had the largest deficits among the 55 markets Hines analyzed.

What's happening: Housing starts across those 55 metros have plunged since the 2008 financial crisis, McCullough says.

  • The city of San Diego would need to triple its current housing production to meet what the state considers its annual housing need, according to the city's 2023 housing report.

The big picture: San Diego has for years rewritten community plans to allow for more housing, and reformed development rules to make it faster and cheaper for developers to build.

The region has drawn statewide praise for its willingness to implement pro-housing reforms, but that hasn't translated into a major increase in homebuilding.

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