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Are Cities Or The Suburbs Better For The Economy? | CNBC Marathon

A cost-of-living crisis is unfolding across America’s housing infrastructure. CNBC explores what that means for apartments in the cities and houses in the suburbs.

Inflation data shows that costs for items such as rent and groceries are increasing quickly across the Sun Belt and coastal cities. Now years removed from the darkest days of the pandemic, people are asking: Is a return to the city worth it? Metropolitan regions have sprawled in recent years, raising budget concerns and quality-of-life issues for the people who remain downtown. Meanwhile the absence of commuters is slowing the recovery in leisure and hospitality.

About 46% of renters in the U.S. are struggling to make ends meet, according to Harvard University researchers. Builders say conditions for renters will get worse before they get better. A snarled supply chain, a labor shortage, and rising interest rates are worsening what some call a “throwaway” development pattern. Several real estate industry experts have ideas about how to make housing more attainable. Some of the most popular ideas include mixed-use districts and master-planned communities.

America’s suburbs are sprawling again. Over the 20th century, real estate developers built large tracts of single-family homes outside of major cities. The builders were following mortgage underwriting standards first introduced by the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s. Over the century, those guidelines created housing market conditions that explicitly shut out many minorities. Experts say it is possible to update these old building codes to create equity while fixing some, but not all of the problems of American suburbia.

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