Historical Census of Housing Tables: Home Ownership
Owning one's home has long been considered a part of the American Dream. If so, we have been much better off in recent decades than we
were in the early 20th century. In 2000, about 66 percent of American households owned their own homes; at the dawn of the century, less
than half could make that claim.
Roaring 20's. Then, the Great Depression drove the home ownership rate to its lowest level of the century -- 43.6 percent in 1940.
Homeownership rates declined slowly but steadily from 1900 to 1920. There was a jump in the 1920's, largely fueled by the economy of the
financing saw home ownership explode nationally, topping 60 percent in just two decades.
The post-World War II surge was remarkable. A booming economy, favorable tax laws, a rejuvenated home building industry, and easier
In 1900, it had the highest home ownership rate (80 percent) ever recorded by a single State for any decennial census. Then, the rate fell,
Even so, individual States have seen ups and downs not always closely related to national trends. Look at the strange journey of North Dakota.
Many southern States had very low home ownership rates with little change in the early years of the 20th century, saw a tremendous boom
even during the 1920's. By 1940, its rate had fallen to about 50 percent. Afterward, it leaped back rapidly to well over 60 percent in a mere
decade. Some of its neighbors -- South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa -- show a similar trend.
Some States have always had high home ownership rates -- over 50 percent. These are found in the Rocky Mountains, the Midwest, and
after World War II, and now stand above the national average. Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina are good examples
of this trend.
northern New England. Look at Utah (the only State where the rate has never been under 60 percent), Michigan, and Maine.
There are other things worthy of some note. West Virginia has been the home ownership leader the past three censuses. The District of
The Middle Atlantic States (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) illustrate well the jump from 1920 to 1930, the subsequent fall in 1940,
and the post-World War II boom. By the way, New York, in 1990, had more owned than rented homes for the first time this century in a
Columbia has never had a rate even approaching 50 percent in this century. California reached its high water mark in 1960 at 58.4 percent.
Alaska and Hawaii are NOT included in 1950 US total; the rate does not change if they are included.
Data for 1900-1930 are limited to households reporting tenure.
The rates for 1900 will not exactly match those given in some earlier reports and briefs; the above 1900 rates include some families living in
institutions, boarding rooms, and other such living quarters that have not been counted as households from 1930 to the present. Some
earlier reports excluded these quasi-households from the rates. But, these types of households are included in 1910 and 1920, so 1900 was
made consistent with the other early censuses. If these quasi-households are excluded, the home ownership in 1900 for the U.S. was 46.7%.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau