Departmental Papers (City and Regional Planning)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

January 2001


Postprint version. Published in Planning for a new century : the regional agenda, edited by Jonathan Barnett (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2001), Chapter 10, pages 149-165.


The housing industry plays an important social and economic role in the United States. Not only do dwellings and their locations denote status in U.S. society, but approximately 4 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product is created by residential development. Its effects ripple through the economy. It provides direct employment in construction and related jobs and indirect support for other consumer spending, including home furnishings, appliances, and even garden equipment. The federal government, through surveys conducted by several agencies, among them the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Commerce, keeps close watch on this important industry, monitoring housing starts (usually ranging from 1.2 to 1.8 million units annually), single-family sales, mortgage interest rates, and quality indicators. These statistics provide a picture of the industry, illuminate potential problems, and reveal specific areas for government intervention.



Date Posted: 29 August 2007