Only 1.27 permits per 1,000 residents were issued in 2021

By Paul F. Eno
Editor, The Rhode Island Builder
Reprinted with permission, from Rhode Island Builder magazine, September 2022

Rhode Island is dead last in the nation for single-family building permits issued per capita.

That’s the message from statistics recently released for 2021, the latest period for which the numbers are available, by the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the federal figures, Rhode Island issued only 1.27 permits per 1,000 residents in 2021. Connecticut, at 49th, came in with barely better numbers, at 1.29 permits per thousand residents. In contrast, Massachusetts did twice as well, issuing 2.82 permits per 1,000 residents, coming in 41st in the nation.

Number one was Utah, at 11.7 permits per thousand residents. None of the leading states were in the Northeast, and the best ranking in New England was Maine, coming in 20th with 4.76 permits.

The statistics are summed up in a study from Boutique Home Plans (BHP), The State of New Residential Construction in America, which analyzed housing data as far back as 1986. Cratering affordability across the nation, especially in areas like the Northeast, is a factor in the current figures.

“Home affordability has fallen to the lowest levels ever recorded after plummeting by 29 percent over the last year,” the BHP article stated. See the article.

According to multiple sources, the median price of a single-family home in Rhode Island is $430,000. In Connecticut, it’s $317,500. In Greater Boston, it recently hit $900,000.

On account of the affordability crisis, the BHP study noted a trend away from single-family homes and toward multifamily construction.

According to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, single-family homes still rule the roost, for the moment, in the Ocean State, with 74 percent of the permits. In contrast again, the figure in Massachusetts is only 36 percent.

See Census figures.