MBA Chart of Week: Distribution of Housing Types, Race and Ethnicity (Urban Areas and U.S.)



Source: MBA Analysis of Five-Year Period Estimates of ACS for 2011-2015  

Are more people living in urban areas? The numbers have not changed a lot since 2000–just under a quarter of U.S. households live in relatively dense urban areas, occupying less than one-half of 1 percent of U.S. land area.  

Urban households are more than twice as likely as suburban households to live in multifamily housing–with 37 percent of urban households and 16 percent of suburban households living in such units. Even with the increased role of multifamily, urban housing markets are still largely single-family in nature–with nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of urban households living in buildings with 1 to 4 units.  

The diversity of urban housing markets can also be seen in their racial and ethnic make-up. Among the population of urban housing markets, 33 percent is Hispanic (compared to 17 percent of the nation as a whole), 17 percent is Black (compared to 12 percent of the nation as a whole), 10 percent is Asian (compared to 5 percent) and 3 percent is from other non-Hispanic, non-White racial and ethnic groups (compared to 3 percent). Only 38 percent of the population in urban housing markets identifies as non-Hispanic White.  

Every community and housing market in America is different, but they come in types. To better understand America’s housing markets, we segment its neighborhoods by the type and density of housing in a new series of short papers. We choose to look at the built environment, as opposed to the characteristics of neighborhood occupants, because these structural aspects of our cities are enduring, lend themselves to different sorts of living arrangements and different types of financing.  

Follow the series on American Housing Markets at  

(Lynn Fisher is vice president of research and economics with MBA; she can be reached at Jamie Woodwell is vice president of commercial/multifamily research and economics with MBA. He can be reached at