Report Spotlights Federal Lands in Housing Constrained States

Construction of house

A new report published by the U.S. Joint Economic Committee says Nevada’s housing shortage could be completely remedied and California’s shortage significantly aided if the U.S. government authorized the sale of certain federal lands to state and local governments for home development projects.

The research was commissioned by the republican faction of the entire committee, which has both democrat and republican congressional members from the House and Senate. Since 1946, the committee has routinely reviewed economic conditions across the nation and made policy recommendations to Congress.

“Home prices tend to be growing the fastest in the western United States, where more than 50 percent of the land is owned by the federal government,” is states.

It’s estimated California’s housing shortage as a percent of total housing stock (aggregated from the county level) is the second-highest in the nation at 31 percent, the report states. Nevada’s shortage stands at 12 percent.

Other findings:

  • When it comes to share of land owned by the U.S. government, Nevada is No. 1 (at 84 percent) out of all 50 states. California is No. 7 (at 48 percent).
  • Other western states on the higher end of the shortage spectrum are Utah, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, and Colorado.
  • The federal government owns approximately 1 million square miles of land, or 28 percent of total land in the United States.

Going deeper, the government owns and administers significant amounts of federal land in 12 states (Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Alaska, Oregon, Wyoming, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, and Washington). About 41 percent of these lands are controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the remaining land is controlled by other federal agencies (U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. National Park Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation).

Within these 12 states, the U.S. government owns/administers:

  • More than 40 percent of the land in just eight of those states.
  • More than 60 percent of land in just four of those states (Nevada — 84 percent; Utah — 64 percent; Idaho — 63 percent; and Alaska — 60 percent).

The report, as well as other studies, are insightful as both public and private sector agencies and organizations try to understand and come up with solutions to the deeply underbuilt housing supply afflicting many states across the nation.

Other recent news and research studies specifically on California are calling attention to important housing, economic, worker, and demographic shifts that credit union leaders can study as they continue serving local members:

Pin It