housing

Many Americans are ready and eager to buy a home right now. But they're having trouble finding one.

Home sales edged down 6.6% in February compared with the previous month because there just aren't enough houses out there for people to buy.

That lack of supply is also driving up prices as bidding wars break out with multiple offers on many homes.

"The housing market is out of whack," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. "There's a lot of demand, but the supply is not coming along."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken a key step toward extending an order aimed at preventing evictions during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The CDC order is currently set to expire in less than 2 weeks.

Housing advocates have warned for months that allowing this protection for renters to lapse would spark a tsunami of evictions, putting upward of 1 million people out of their homes.

The nation's homeless population grew last year for the fourth year in a row. On a single night in January 2020, there were more than 580,000 individuals who were homeless in the United States, a 2% increase from the year before.

The numbers, released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday, do not reflect the impact of the pandemic.

If there's one thing tenants and landlords can agree on during this pandemic, it's that emergency rental assistance is sorely needed. Millions of Americans have been unable to pay their rent for months, and landlords — who have their own bills to pay — are also hurting. By some estimates, tenants are already more than $50 billion in arrears.

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday it will begin enforcing the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The move follows an executive order signed by President Biden on his first day in office instructing agencies to enforce prohibitions on such discrimination.

Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge has a huge job ahead of her, if she's confirmed as the nation's 18th secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Judging from a largely positive hearing Thursday before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, she appears headed for approval.

The Biden administration says the federal government needs to do a better job of acknowledging the ways that communities of color are blocked from fair and equal access to housing.

"Today the average Black family has just one-tenth the wealth of the average white family, while the gap between white and Black in home ownership is now larger than it was in 1960," Susan Rice, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a news briefing Tuesday.

Updated at 3:33 p.m. ET

Saying it's time to act "because that's what faith and morality require us to do," President Biden on Tuesday signed four executive actions aimed at advancing racial equity for Americans the White House says have been underserved and left behind.

Biden said Tuesday that the measures follow one of his core campaign promises: to restore "the soul of the nation," as he often said during the presidential race.

"Our soul will be troubled," he said, "as long as systemic racism is allowed to exist."

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a source familiar with the transition discussions said Tuesday. The source spoke on condition of anonymity about private conversations.

There are fewer homes for sale in the U.S. today than ever recorded in data going back nearly 40 years. That's a big part of what's driving up home prices much faster than incomes, and making homeownership less affordable for more and more Americans.

"We are simply facing a housing shortage, a major housing shortage," says Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors which tracks home sales. "We need to build more homes. Supply is critical in the current environment."

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