This is such a complex topic, relating also to homelessness, and I hope to have links to articles, while also making this a space to discuss the topic. The goal is to gain a better understanding and identifying effective solutions. Here’s a twitter thread about how YIMBY’s (Yes in My Backyard)–people who support building more housing units in their communities can create the impression that they’re pro-landlord and pro-developer, and how this can turn others off because of strong anti-landlord and anti-developer feelings.
11/ Again, the core of landlord power is that they control a scarce resource. The best way to reduce that power is to make the resource less scarce. Landlord market power over renters will decrease the more new housing is built.
— Neoliberal (@ne0liberal) April 14, 2018
10 thoughts on “Affordable Housing Thread”
Why Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not prices
I recommend reading this Financial Times article about housing in Tokyo. The article supports the belief that increasing housing supply is crucial to controlling housing costs. It seems obvious and undeniable, yet discussions about affordable housing often seems centered on price control type of solutions–either the government providing housing with lower market rates or requiring developers to do so. The article suggests that a better solution is increasing the number of housing units.
However, there are problems and costs to that, as the article points to. In Japan, landowners have a lot of freedom to build whatever they want on their land. In the article, someone builds a multi-story apartment next to the author’s home. The article also mentions that the cities look ugly.
If increasing the housing supply is the solution to controlling housing costs, what the article suggests is that the next biggest problem is determining the way this will take place. Specifically, where will the new housing supply be built? What’s the criteria and process for doing this? Will there any be restrictions and who will decide this?
My sense is that the people perceive the building of more housing–in their community–as something that is, on balance, largely negative. This can be seen by the common Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) response by people when new development is proposed in their community.
How do you deal with this–specifically the concerns and complains that people bring up? One answer seems to be a variety of zoning and regulation that addresses these concerns. For example, height restrictions and parking requirements imposed on developers are ways to address concerns about aesthetics and transportation. But these type of requirements seem to limit or slow the housing supply. Another solution could involve incentives or compensation to people in communities that build more housing. Off the top of my head, for example, maybe lower taxes on homes could be given to these communities.
Japan’s solution seems to be an interesting one. In essence, everyone has the potential to bear the burden of increased housing at any time. Landowners, small and large, can also reap financial benefits as well. I’m skeptical that Americans would tolerate this approach, though.
San Francisco elected a pro-housing mayor. Now what?
This Medium piece gives several suggestions that address affordable housing, mainly by building more housing of all types. Obviously, the problems and suggestions may not be the same in Honolulu, but certain sections create the impression that similarities exist between the two cities. The Mayor and the person writing the piece seem to believe that housing shortage leads to increased housing prices, and I assume that’s true here as well.
My sense is that high cost of housing is largely a supply-demand problem–namely, there is a lack of supply. Warren seems to agree, but her solution seems to rely on government for increasing the supply. That ideal doesn’t appeal to me, although I’m not completely closed to it. Tweaking incentives and removing disincentives for developers to increase the housing stock appeals to me more.
The Great Housing Debate: A Profusion of Panaceas from Governing magazine.
The author goes through a series of measures that have not been panaceas. The most promising solution he offers?
He’s not sure whether higher taxation on these types properties would be able to become reality, but he does feel his suggestions provides a path to significant increase in the housing supply. (I think he agrees that lack of supply is the main problem for high housing costs.)
(I’m not finished watching this yet, but I’m putting it here to get to it later.)
The Homeownership Society Was a Mistake from theAtlantic’s Jerusalem Demsas.
While the article primarily lays out the problems with making home ownership a goal, as well as using homes as primary way for building wealth, it also is closely related to affordable housing. The question below really lays this out well:
Here’s How The Green Administration Plans To Tackle Hawaii’s Housing Shortage from Civilbeat
Can 3-D Printing Help Solve the Housing Crisis? from the New Yorker
The primary role 3D printer plays in constructing a house.
Red flag (See pattern language on convex/concave walls.)
This. This is the really the bigger issue:
This is not to say 3D printing won’t play an important role in addressing the housing shortage. It could. But I think the political questions are the bigger issue. (Note: The details about the technology and challenges involved are interesting and the article is worth reading.)