SAN ANTONIO — We need to find homes for 150 million more people.
With the U.S. population projected to grow that much in the next 30-40 years, that will necessitate "more compact, more mixed-use development," and coordinated transportation planning, said Patrick Phillips, CEO for the Urban Land Institute, who spoke during a National Association of Real Estate Editors annual conference Wednesday.
Neighborhoods that are close-in to urban centers are becoming more desirable, Phillips said, noting that foreclosures are impacting many "outer-rim" communities beyond the suburbs, also known as exurbs.
There is now a disconnect in the location of housing and jobs, he said, that is "not a sustainable urban growth model."
"The design and development of urban areas will be radically different in the decades ahead. We are seeing a push to make our cities more livable and sustainable," he said.
It’s important to consider not just the cost of housing in a given area, but the sum of housing and transportation costs, he said, to identify a "mismatch between jobs and affordable housing."
One-person households are the fastest-growing type of household. And the hottest housing sector in the country is multifamily apartments, due in part to people losing their homes to foreclosure and entry-level workers who cannot afford to buy.
"The rental sector remains undersupplied in many markets," Phillips said.
He noted generational differences in baby boomers and Gen Yers that will play a role in housing decisions. The younger generation tends to be environmentally conscious, places a high value on community, and is willing to to give up space for convenience.
"I think we need to be building differently," he said, to cater to their preferences.
There are some people who like to live in high-density, urban settings, he noted, and there has been "a real renaissance over the last 15 years or so in our urban cores," with some downtowns making dramatic comebacks by adding stadiums and improving public services, for example.
He noted that some inner-ring suburbs have found success in anchor institutions, such as universities and medical centers, that are magnets for employment.
The Urban Land Institute is preparing a report that will look 75 years into the future to determine what type of development is needed that is not present today, how it will be financed, and how the existing inventory of properties can be repurposed, he said.