Homeownership has long been part of the American Dream for many, and is often touted as offering numerous benefits to individuals and local communities.

Homeownership has long been part of the American Dream for many, and is often touted as offering numerous benefits to individuals and local communities. Since the recession of 2007-2009, however, the US homeownership rate has fallen steadily, and recently dropped to its lowest level since 1965.

According to Apartment List’s analysis of the Census data, the economic downturn had the greatest impact on homeownership among these three segments of the US population: (1) those in Sunbelt cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Orlando, Tampa, and Atlanta; (2) young Americans aged 18-45; and (3) Hispanics and African Americans.

With interest rates near historic lows, the median monthly homeowner payment has fallen 13 percent since 2007. Renters, however, fail to benefit from lower interest rates, and have been hit instead by rents that have increased by 3.7 percent (both numbers adjusted to 2014 dollars). In Houston, for example, owner costs have gone down by $289, whereas rents have risen by $115.

Research indicates that not owning a home has a sizable financial cost, as renters miss out on low mortgage rates and are hit by higher rents. This phenomenon may exacerbate inequality in society, as those wealthy enough to invest in real estate benefit from lower interest rates, whereas minorities and younger Americans, hit by rising rents and student debt, risk being locked out of homeownership.