In 2001, there were 29.3 million dwellings nationwide. About 24.3 million were primary residences, three million were second homes, and about two million were vacant. About 58% of all dwellings are detached homes.
After World War II, in which 4.2 million dwellings were destroyed and one million damaged, the government took steps to provide inexpensive public housing. Annual construction rose steadily through the 1950s and 1960s; in 1970–75, housing construction of all types increased by an annual average of more than 6%. In 1975, the total number of new dwellings completed was 514,300. Construction slowed thereafter, and by 1996 the number had declined to 236,270.
In accordance with a law of 1953, industrial and commercial firms employing 10 or more wage earners must invest 1% of their total payroll in housing projects for their employees. These funds can finance either public or private low-cost housing. Concerns must undertake construction of low-cost projects either on their own responsibility or through a building concern to which they supply capital. Special housing allowances are provided for families who must spend an inordinately large share of their income on rent or mortgages.