The housing industry is the most important economic sector in the US, employing more than 5 million people. Housing, also commonly referred to as property, refers to the arrangement and assigned use of buildings or homes together, for the primary purpose of sheltering human beings inside the facility, with various meanings attributed to the term. One way of looking at housing is to regard it as a place where people live, rather than an investment that yields money, a market in which housing prices are based on demand and supply. The housing industry has indeed become an essential and decisive force in shaping the shape and future of the country’s socio-cultural life. However, one must not forget that housing is just one aspect of the complex process of real estate – the development of land and the building of residential dwellings. Other processes like construction of schools, hospitals and other establishments, creation of public infrastructure, development of residential communities and land speculation are all equally crucial in the overall scheme of things.
The housing concept has undergone profound changes in the last century. Prior to the Great Depression, the housing sector was largely based on the concept of landed property, which was sold and acquired by individuals and families as a result of a grantor’s trust or deed. The “confidence man” theory, the concept of individual property being a secure base from which to build up wealth, was also taken into consideration, with the family home serving as the primary shelter for the entire clan.
Current housing policy puts the emphasis on building up “social capital”, i.e., on creating homes that are not merely a means of housing but also a place to live. Thus, developers focus on the quality of the house, taking into consideration factors such as proximity to education and health care facilities, as well as the proximity to essential employment centers. At the same time, many cities have begun to promote developments that create affordable rental housing that can act as a source of income for low and middle-income families. In this way, the present housing concept helps to solve the increasing housing crisis while at the same time providing a solution to social housing requirements.