15 Cities Investing in High-Density Housing

Luxury apartment building
Grand Warszawski / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Porch.

For decades, metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. have invested in high-density housing — building more apartment buildings, condos, and other new housing developments.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting this long-standing demand for housing in high-density areas and buildings. Even as the distancing measures from COVID-19 ultimately subside, recent research suggests that people may continue to seek housing in less densely populated areas and structures. Cities that have invested heavily in high-density housing may have trouble finding residents to fill these new units.

Since the early 1990s, high-density housing — buildings with five or more units — has accounted for a growing share of total new residential development. Even after a brief decline during the Great Recession, the share of high-density housing has continued to rise.

While in 1992, only about 13% of new housing units were in high-density structures, in 2019, 35% of the 1.4 million housing units authorized in the United States were high-density.

To find the metropolitan areas that have been investing most in high-density housing, researchers at Porch analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permits Survey and 2019 American Community Survey One-Year Estimates. Their researchers found the proportion of 2019 building permits in each location issued for housing units in structures containing five units or more.

Following are the metropolitan areas that have been investing the most in high-density housing.

15. Louisville, Kentucky

A historic district of Louisville, Kentucky
Philip Rozenski / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 44.6%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 16.1%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 2,574
  • Total new housing units (2019): 5,766

14. Philadelphia

Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4kclips / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 48.3%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 17.3%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 7,540
  • Total new housing units (2019): 15,607

13. Washington, D.C.

U.S. Capitol
Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 50.7%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 30.8%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 13,597
  • Total new housing units (2019): 26,804

12. Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
Kristopher Kettner / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 51.7%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 25.7%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 9,346
  • Total new housing units (2019): 18,085

11. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon
photomatz / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 51.9%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 23.2%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 8,719
  • Total new housing units (2019): 16,815

10. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Public Library
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 52.2%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 21.9%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 5,572
  • Total new housing units (2019): 10,680

9. Minneapolis

Minneapolis
Nick Lundgren / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 56.1%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 23.4%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 12,567
  • Total new housing units (2019): 22,414

8. San Diego

The skyline of San Diego, where median rent is well below median mortgage payments
Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 57.0%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 29.8%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 4,681
  • Total new housing units (2019): 8,216

7. San Jose, California

People ride electric scooters in San Jose, California.
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 57.0%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 29.0%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 3,552
  • Total new housing units (2019): 6,230

6. Seattle

Seattle
Albert Pegp / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 61.8%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 29.5%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 16,426
  • Total new housing units (2019): 26,599

5. Miami

Miami
Kamira / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 62.7%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 40.1%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 12,964
  • Total new housing units (2019): 20,688

4. Los Angeles

The streets of Los Angeles, where median rent is relatively low
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 62.8%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 33.4%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 19,196
  • Total new housing units (2019): 30,554

3. Boston

Sailboats in Boston harbor.
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 65.8%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 25.4%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 9,929
  • Total new housing units (2019): 15,088

2. San Francisco

Open park area in San Francisco
cdrin / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 68.6%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 30.0%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 9,528
  • Total new housing units (2019): 13,881

1. New York City

New York City
littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 76.9%
  • Share of existing housing units in high-density structures: 39.4%
  • Total new housing units in high-density structures (2019): 47,021
  • Total new housing units (2019): 61,168

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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