Troubled by a record foreclosure crisis and an economy hinging on an economic collapse, homeownership fell for the seventh straight year to the lowest level in more than a decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The drop in the nation’s homeownership rate is evidence that government programs to increase the number of homeowners only helped deliver higher profits to Wall Street and banks that designed the money making scheme. More than 8 million homeowners have been foreclosed from their homes since the foreclosure crisis started.
Homeownership dropped 0.5% in the last quarter of 2011 to just 66%. The rate is now at its lowest level since 1997 when it hit 65.7%.
An increase in the number of homes that have been bulldozed in some of the hardest hit markets of the country, including Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan contributed to a reduction in the percentage of vacant housing units to 7.2 million in the fourth quarter, according to census figures. There were more than 18 million vacant homes counted under census calculations two years ago, but many of the homes are no longer included in government figures since they are considered to be uninhabitable.
The census report also indicated that 13.9% of U.S. housing units were vacant during the final quarter of the year.
Delays in the foreclosure process and bank servicing companies’ inability to handle the volume of properties that are defaulting on their mortgages are also contributing to a bulging inventory of homes in the shadow inventory, which are not yet officially counted on lenders’ books until after foreclosure.
Census estimates are unable to count many of those homes for the government survey.