Boston-Area Millennials Face Affordable Housing Shortage, Study Finds

While the greater Boston area boasts a large, diverse, and highly educated population of millennials, many of them are struggling to find affordable housing, a report from the Boston Foundation and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce finds.

The report, City of Millennials: Improving the Future Prospects of Our Region and Its Young Adults (24 pages, PDF), found that among the twenty-five largest U.S. cities, Boston had the highest concentration of 20- to 34-year-olds in 2015, at 35 percent of the overall population, with even higher concentrations in Cambridge (42 percent) and Somerville (44 percent). Indeed, between 2000 and 2015, the greater Boston area's millennial population grew at a faster rate than in most other large cities — with particularly rapid growth among Latino and Asian millennials. And over the same period, the share of young adults with a college degree rose from 52 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2015 in Boston; from 64 percent to 78 percent in Somerville, and from 81 percent to 88 percent in Cambridge.

Based on a survey, the study also found that affordable housing (32 percent) and economic mobility (24 percent) were the top concerns for greater Boston's millennial population, followed by access to affordable education (15 percent). According to the report, 45 percent of respondents were "somewhat dissatisfied" and 26 percent were "very dissatisfied" with the housing market in the region; half of renters said they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent; and 28 percent were unable to meet their housing costs or had to cut back on other spending to do so, including 44 percent of African Americans and 39 percent of Latinos. The survey also found that 40 percent of respondents said they lacked sufficient income to put money into savings, including 62 percent of African Americans and 42 percent of Latinos. While 80 percent of respondents expressed confidence in the future of the regional economy, 73 percent expressed concern that there are not enough economic opportunities for all, including 91 percent of African-Americans and 71 percent of Latinos.

"Engaging in efforts to improve upward mobility, to provide more and affordable housing options, and to provide better access to and reliability of public transportation for all who live and work in greater Boston is crucial to the long term competitiveness of our region," said James E. Rooney, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber. "The positive news is that greater Boston's millennials are committed to helping us overcome these challenges, and we're seeing tremendous engagement and contributions from this population, particularly those involved with our City Awake program."