Subways with the Most Unoccupied Homes in America

There are many reasons why a community may end up with too many houses and not enough people to live in.

Sometimes it’s a simple case of population loss or an economic downturn that results in a wave of foreclosures. Other times, there are bigger forces at work, like developers building too much in anticipation of a housing boom that never materializes. COVID-19 has had a rapid and drastic impact on the housing market in many regions, causing a shortage of affordable housing for most and an opportunity for second or even third homes for others.

Stacker compiled a list of the 50 metropolitan areas with the most unoccupied homes by analyzing data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2021, released September 2022 (most recent available). Metropolitan areas are ranked based on the percentage of unoccupied homes out of all homes in each metropolitan area. Ties were broken by the total number of unoccupied homes in the metro area as a whole.

In 22 of the 50 metros surveyed, more than 50% of unoccupied housing is for occasional, recreational or seasonal use.

A nationwide epidemic of unoccupied homes is “America’s Other Housing Crisis” according to a CityLab report based on a recent study by the Center for Community Progress. The report cites the “staggering economic and social costs” that mass job vacancies tend to create for the communities they affect. He also points out that the 2008 recession caused the number of vacant homes to rise by 26% between 2005 and 2010, from 9.5 million to 12 million. That number has since declined, but vacancies have still not returned to pre-recession lows.

The dynamic has since changed. Vacant homes have long been associated with economically struggling urban centers, often described with the generic term “downtown”. Today, however, job vacancies are the bane of small towns. In post-recession America, rural areas suffer from vacancy rates that are double those of metropolitan areas.

Keep reading to find out which metro areas residents are most likely to live next to an empty house and what factors contribute to vacancies.

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