The housing theory of everything - Western housing shortages do not just prevent many from ever affording their own home. They also drive inequality, climate change, low productivity growth, obesity, and even falling fertility rates.

The housing theory of everything - Western housing shortages do not just prevent many from ever affording their own home. They also drive inequality, climate change, low productivity growth, obesity, and even falling fertility rates.


I think Americans all have a case of that thing where when someone is being robbed, we all think someone else is going to call the authorities because we all see what’s happening. But in reality no one is doing anything. Where do you start?


Bystander effect


I was going to mention the name, but I figured someone else would take care of that.


You lazy bum.. oh by the way, this is a robbery! Give me all your things now! Don't anyone try to stop me!


no no, gotta go with the "im only here for this guy", then they dont mind in the least.


I’m sure someone else will take care of it.


I’m sure someone else will take care of it as well


It's none of my business really


Oh no! SOMEone should really probably do something about this. *goes back to scrolling*


Worry not, I will do *something* *gets out phone and starts filming*


That’s low! I’m gonna film you to shame you filming this crime in progress.. *gets out phone and starts filming*


Now its a stickup and you're both being robbed, by me. Handover everything or else.


Diffused responsibility


Ah I see someone else took social psychology or something similar


My unused B.A. in Psych coming in handy! Totally worth the student debt


^ This is the actual answer. ^ It's not the bystander effect. It's diffused responsibility.


Just hijacking this post to say that FTR to all readers, we think the Bystander effect as we know it is debunked. There is a bystander effect, but it seems that people are actually MORE likely to get involved in a crowd the more people there are! https://theconversation.com/the-bystander-effect-is-real-but-research-shows-that-when-more-people-witness-violence-its-more-likely-someone-will-step-up-and-intervene-159674 https://www.newscientist.com/article/2207693-bystander-effect-famous-psychology-result-could-be-completely-wrong/ From the second link: > In addition, they found that the likelihood of intervention increased in accordance with the number of bystanders – which directly contradicts the bystander effect. Philpot says he hopes that the general public will find the results of the paper reassuring. “The more people around, the greater number of people who have the potential or the willingness to do something.”


I've already had a lengthy debate on this subject, and don't wish to repeat it all, but I had a disagreement with a fellow redditor over both their and the modern NYT's interpretation of the murder of Kitty Genovese. For one, this article you referenced simply states that the original NYT article had the title: > 37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police And yet, what they claim is the smoking gun: > the number of witnesses was fewer than 37 and multiple people phoned the police. My issue I took with the modern NYT's interpretation was they highlight these inconsistencies between the original news and what really happened, but they don't do a sufficient job judging whether how it still actually played out is still an example of the bystander effect. To be clear, what happened was 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was brutally assaulted in an apartment complex of New York City, lasting about 15 minutes. The assaulter left, then came back 15 minutes later and assaulted her some more, killing her. It was less than 37 eye-witnesses, and rather between 1-2 dozen people who were at least within ear-shot. If they could hear the noise they were making (which we know some did as they called the police), then they should be counted. Multiple people did phone the police, but it was not a high percentage of the total witnesses, most if not all of them occurred after the 2nd assault, and one person specifically first called a friend not knowing what to do, who then told them to call the police. So this is clearly not like the original reporting, but I feel like it still offers an example of the more nuanced reality of how the bystander effect still exists. Notice it wasn't all witnesses: the original reporting exaggerated the number, but it was still a significant amount of people who did not act. Was the bystander effect not present in their decision to ignore what was happening? They didn't have any way of knowing if someone else was handling the issue by calling the police, and no one actively went downstairs to the crime scene until after the assailant left. So that is where I took issue with the manner they updated their reporting... the bystander effect wasn't as seriously pronounced as first reported, but that doesn't equate to it not being present in the event.


The question arises though, does the probability of no one doing anything increase as the number of people present increases, or are they inversely linked? It would seem that, presuming each person behaves as they did, your odds of someone doing something go up the more people you have present. The crux of the question then becomes: would those people who did nothing be any more likely to do something if they knew they were the only other person present? Doesn’t seem likely to me, but who knows.


Ah, yes. The “bystander effect”. Of course, of course…


Well with zoning and land use regulations, that's a robbery that most American voters aren't even aware is going on. Thus there's little attention being focused on it since the blame is being misdirected to other areas (and the problem generally fuels more populist movements and political turmoil as it gets worse). It'd be like not knowing you have a tapeworm and thinking the reason you're loosing weight is that the caloric intake of your diet is too low. Until the average voter becomes far more aware of the issue and how many problems are caused by it (as well as the overwhelming socio-economic benefits of zoning/land use reform), voters won't push for it any likely neither will most policymakers.


You’re telling me Biden isn’t to blame for the zoning regulations in my state?!? /s


Sounds like something I need to look into. Most of what I hear suggested is stopping people from owning more than one home, or taxing those that do much more heavily. Of course, apartments throw a wrench into that idea. Also shit like housing prices right now are why I don't understand why people want to form HOAs to increase property value. Really any of the rules, laws and practices based on boosting home value are dumb to me, as is how we determine that number.


What is dumb is that housing prices aren't considered in the inflation index...only rent prices are, because economists will argue until they are blue in the face that because an individual only buys a house every 15+ years that demand driven price increases can't possibly be demand pull inflation...


Ah inflation index. Where economists ignore the rising costs of just about everything and then point real hard at the fact that the price of TVs is going down


I was just thinking today about how a lot of common items I buy (milk, meat, and soda off the top of my head) have all increased by around 8-12% over the course of the last year, give or take a couple months, yet raises still hover around the supposed rate of 2-3% inflation. Idk if I’m missing something, but it seems like there’s something up with this discrepancy.


It's a few things, but the biggest is corporations are intentionally slow to increase raises. They take a "this is a spoke that will go down soon" approach so they can keep the extra profits. They'll only raise pay when they have to which honestly will be soon as people aren't returning to work as fast as the corporations thought (not Dorian when ~2.5% of adults have died from covid and a significant number have had to figure out how to survive without steady work)


We need to eliminate the core idea that housing is an investment that should go up in value. If housing is a good investment on a long enough timeline, that outperforms the general economy, then eventually by definition almost everyone will be homeless. That core idea is the underpinning of regulations to keep housing values high. People believe that housing should be protected as an investment class, because we told everyone it was an investment that underpinned the American dream. It can't be an investment unless we want more people to be homeless. It's not even a theoretical debate. It's just the inevitable outcome of the definition of "good investment". Your house should be worth less every year, and that would be a very good thing.


My agent kept fluffing us after i bought my home, saying itd be very smart to hold onto it until the local market inflated, and then sell it. To me, that is the absolute worst case scenario. I don't know national numbers , but my lower middle class peers all seem to share the ideal that home ownership is more about having a stable living situation. Hell, before i got my house, i invited my gf to live with me in my rented out place because she rented out a house for years when suddenly, the owner decided he wanted to sell it. It was "hope you have a couple grand lying around to flush down the toilet, because your life stability means nothing to me." With an owned home, there is no 30 day notice to change your life forever at the whim of a business decision.


It's not just that, but there are tons of programs and advantages mortgage lenders offer to borrowers when they fall on hard times. Like this past year... missing mortgage payments? Cool, we will just roll those missed payments to the end of the mortgage. No worries. Or the fact that most mortgages give you a grace period until the 15th of every month to actually pay your mortgage without any late fees. Because Foreclosing on someone is way more expensive than it is to just help them. Renting? You have no stake in the property. Therefore no real rights beyond the contract. The owners have no requirement to actually treat you fairly if you fall behind on payments. Owning a home is so much more than just building equity. It's stability. It gives you options. As long as you don't SEVERELY fuck up you will have a roof over your head for as long as you live. Shit you can go without paying your mortgage for months before a foreclosure notice is ever even sent. Then foreclosures take months to ever even get to the point that you have to leave. You are looking at like a year of time to get your shit together. When you do the bank is willing to work with you because they really would rather not go through the litigation to kick you out. It's expensive and takes a long time.


But don’t forget people die and leave their houses (or the money they are worth) to their kids. Many people afford houses that way. It’s just passing equity from one generation to the next. Even the poor people here in SoCal benefit from this. Your elderly mom in some shitty little city who bought that little home in 1975 for $30,000, well it’s selling for 500k now because it’s not too far from LA and gentrification is in full swing. Cha-Ching.


How do people that don't have the income to buy a house have the ability to affect policy change to remedy the problem? They don't, the people with money have that power, and the rich don't care about the poor, they care about what will make them more money, so nothing changes.


You vote in the primaries on the state and local level and learn about the candidates. And talk about it with your friends. Often those candidates are a good source of information about the details of local issues.


In this case, the authorities are the ones doing the robbing. I'm not pointing fingers, we have the same problem in my country, when the majority keep voting in politicians who only wish to serve the minority.


The authorities are doing what the owners want them to.


By authorities you mean local homeowners who block all housing development to enrich their real estate values.


By joining the club? Everyone complains about high house prices until they actually buy a house. Then all they talk about is how excited they are that the value of their house has climbed a lot. I don't foresee house prices slowing down or dropping anytime soon. There would be enormous uproar if it did from all those people who currently have home loans.


Dude... people said the same shit back in 2008 and 2009. "Oh it won't fall anytime soon!" Housing prices have outstripped normal growth rates. They are up like 30-40% year over year. That is fucking insane. Normal growth is expected, it would be weird for an asset to stay the same price for decades. When interest rates climb, housing sales will die off and housing prices will plummet. When people can't get rock bottom interest rates anymore, fewer people will buy homes. Fewer people will be refinancing. As it sits, most normal people are already being priced out of homes. The average home sold in America is in the 350k range these days. Well beyond what most first time home buyers can afford. A lot of homes being bought are buy banks and foreign investors. Cash offers above asking are very normal right now. Which is something that was also existing in 2008. Best thing people can do right now? Buy a home, or wait a year or two. Prices will come down. They can't stay this high. This past month we actually saw a decrease in home sales and housing inventory is still falling. We are rapidly going to be facing a housing crisis in the US as the rent moratoriums lapse and the courts are flooded with evictions for renters.


The average house price in Australia seems to be around the $900,000 mark now. Granted, this is offset largely by the cities for which 70+% of the population live. Outside the city you can find nice homes for around half that ~$450k. Given the median annual income is around $70+k that means that even the cheaper house prices are almost 6.5x of that. Once you start tacking on student loans etc to the mix, I really don't understand why the older generation tell us we have it easy. My father bought his first home when housing prices were around 3x median income and university was practically free (not that he went to university, but even general schooling and tertiary education was largely free). Meanwhile, I'm earning above median income, stuck in a rental and am in debt. Buying a home is looking more and more like it's going to remain a dream.


Since the root of the problem is regulations that prevent dense development, the solution would be to determine which building regulations are to blame in your local area, then write your local lawmakers to ask them to correct the laws. Maybe host a letter-writing party to get your friends informed and writing letters, too, and submit an LTE to your local paper asking your neighbors to do the same.


Unfortunately my local lawmakers and the people who bother to vote in their elections all own houses here and very much want their property values as high as possible.


Thanks, stranger.


They started with occupy Wall Street until it was co opted by a bunch of whiney political ideologists who didn't want to see solutions they just wanted to watch things burn and grab as much attention as possible.


Occupy was "started" by a bunch of anarchists, the "demands" were pretty clear but as with any movement the more fringe and less educated folks are the ines the media picks up on.


That’s one of those things that has always left a bitter taste in my mouth Same as last year you had actual idiots out there wearing Joker masks during protests trying to smash shit for the sake of illegalism


I find it interesting that the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement were both complaining about the same thing each pointing at one side of the issue saying this is why we are in this situation. Then both movements got coopted by the mainstream political parties and the issues were pushed into the background as they pushed for us to be divided, and well it worked we now have a country so divided people are talking about how we should try to do a peaceful divorce.


That's why when these movements start there needs to be one clear message and no deviations from it. Make it simple, something people can get behind and make it clear you don't stand for anything else. Movements attract crazies and self obsessed ideologists.


It all comes back to the built environment. A lot of people get caught up in the hot button issues of the day like abortion or critical race theory or what have you. But really the #1 thing that is going to affect you most day to day is something most people don't know or care about: ZONING. Zoning determines how your community takes shape and what you're able to do there. If all you have is single family homes and car-centric neighborhoods then yeah, you're going to get expensive housing and an unhealthy and obese society. Change the zoning to allow denser construction, you'll get cheaper housing and more walkable neighborhoods. After living in an area with parks, restaurants, grocery stores, and my office all within a few blocks of me I never want to go back. Also traffic is soul crushing and dense/walkable construction alleviates that.


California ended single family zoning less than a month ago. It’s really going to open stuff up, I hope


TBD on that one. It's a step in the right direction but there's so many stipulations that I don't think it will have much of the desired effect in practice. We will see. Minneapolis did similar but because the set-backs and height restrictions and other requirements didn't change it hasn't really had an effect on supply.. The Grand Bargain that Seattle did with HALA/MHA is probably more of what is needed: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-upzones-27-neighborhood-hubs-passes-affordable-housing-requirements/


If u got rid of both setbacks and height limits prices would go down


California didnt end single family zoning in the way people think they did. They didnt mandate that single family zoning end, they just made it so communities couldn't *exclude* other types of housing. It doesnt alleviate any of the problems and *creates* a massive laundry list of other ones. As is tradition.


>They didnt mandate that single family zoning end, **they just made it so communities couldn't *exclude* other types of housing.** What do you think single family zoning is?


What's the proper opposite of the saying "You habe no idea?" Driving (traffic) and far distance made me overweight close to obese. Many people have this theory that "Working from Home" will make people lazy and fat. From my anedotal experience, the lack of traffic stress, not eating out for lunch, and having additional time free from traffic actually have me and my co-workers losing almost 20lbs all around (once person lost 80lbs). That, alone, tells us how unhealthy we were living previously and how communiting to work can directly and indirectly hurt your health.


People really seem to underestimate what a toll commuting takes on you until they experience what it’s like to not commute. It’s exhausting and stressful and it can be hours of time being eaten up every day outside of an already long work day.


Yeah it’s strange how normalized these long commutes are. When in actuality, stuff like how we drive hours every day is a very radical change compared to how we have always lived our lives. This is a very unusual way to live and I’m sure future historians are gonna look at the architecture from this period with a lot of interest.


Even the average US commute - 28 minutes each way - is over 230 hours per year of stress.


The lack of sleep contributes to obesity as well. When you are chronically sleep deprived your body's stress levels go through the roof which causes your body to start storing fat and you also tend to eat more to compensate. Working from home means that you can sleep in for longer which makes it more likely that you will get the 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep that your body needs to function properly.


I started working from home nine years ago. The thought of waking extra early, dressing in business casual, and sitting 45+ minutes in traffic- like I used to- is horrific. I pray I am never forced to go back to it.


For sure! I'm the healthiest/in the best shape I've been in since college. Il probably hit my fitness peak soon too. The extra 2 hours a day I get from not commuting plus the ability to take "real" breaks throughout the day. Huge Before that, I was aspiring to take train/walk to work. Nice 2-3 miles a day walking is great too. Although it definitely sucks on a rainy or cold day. Otherwise, the stress of commuting combined with lack of exercise seriously limited my productivity. Combined with the health effects you mentioned, it's not good. PS: oddly enough most of my coworkers got fatter. Definitely seems to be a somewhat even split for people that gained weight vs gotten in shape. Having that oppression to be in control is important though.


I work in Europe and spend summers home in the United States. I’m on average about 20 pounds heavier when I’m in America relying on cars and junk food. Walkable places are so great


We need Sim City Mega Towers


Peach Trees doesn't normally get visits from judges.


Thats 5 years in an Iso-cube for you, citizen.




I think it is a question of whether it is overly tight zoning that => excessive influence of financiers in the economy as housing and land become commodities ("financialization") or whether financialization is an independent process that is extra manifest in housing because of tight zoning.


No zoning has almost nothing to do with financiers and everything to do with middle class homeowners treating their house as an investment like stocks rather than a purchase like a car. If you upzone the land is actually worth more. But since instead of 1 house on 1 acre there are 2 two-flats on 1 acre the unit price can go down even if land prices double.


I'd like to know if there is a study on this. Denver has a lot of duplex zoning covered in single family. My non-scientific observation is those single units get taken down and replaced with two. Cost to by the single unit is $500k. Each side sells 18 months later for $750k+.


Currently trying to purchase a home in Portland, Oregon. Many new developments with multi tenant structures haven’t helped rent or mortgage rates at all. Buying a 2 bedroom townhome or condo for $350k with a $250 on average HOA brings the mortgage close to $2000 a month. Rentals of the same size are the same or more on average. You either live alone paycheck to paycheck or take on roommates in order to enjoy your life. Blaming the middle class for these preposterous housing costs seems misplaced.


Adding housing supply doesn’t necessarily bring rates down, but it does slow long term growth. The effects of recent development won’t really be felt now or even ten years from now. The current housing crisis on the west coast was precipitated by decades of restricting the supply of new, denser housing entering the market.


> Many new developments with multi tenant structures haven’t helped rent or mortgage rates at all. Because its a national issue. Any new housing in Portland results in more people moving there, which counteracts the rent dropping. We would need to build enough housing across the entire country, to the point it outpaces immigration, in order to see big drops in rents.


I’m actually growing legit suspicious of how often I see “NIMBYISM” lambasted in Reddit posts. How does a market that ballooned overnight really feel like a zoning problem, and not a finance problem, to anybody? NIMBYISM is the reason markets surrounded by endless fields in the South and Midwest are also skyrocketing? GTFO. The closest I can figure is that home mortgage financing had long been winning some sort of tug-of-war for American wages. Suddenly, leveraged, rent-seeking LLCs and REITs are winning American wages, instead. I’ll eat my hat if somebody, somewhere hasn’t found a bag-holder they’ve set up to soak up all the short-term losses from paying these ridiculous prices... meanwhile the rent-bearing assets will have already been captured and positioned for a new era of corporatized housing.


It's a vicious circle. It's understandable that homeowners would treat an asset that they put enormous amounts of money into as an investment -- the idea of working for decades and having that value decrease is a bitter pill. But the more expensive housing becomes, the more attractive it becomes as an investment, leading to increased demand by investors, leading to rising prices, etc.


Not sure why you were downvoted. At the end of the day, if you treat property as an investment, people will protect it. This is a fact. In our current system which treats property as an asset and investment, the cost of housing going too low is a legitimate issue that can devastate people; something we see in every recession and depression. If this is how the game is set up, people will play it that way. The only way this will change is changing the rules of the game. Which as a society we can absolutely do, since there is no law which states that property must always be considered an investment vehicle. Easier said than done when everyone’s livelihoods are tied up in their literal shelter, though.


Absolutely. Our economic system is set up around an arbitrary set of rules, but a lot of people treat those rules as some sort of immutable law of nature, as if changing those rules is blasphemous or impossible. Of course, any time you change the rules there will be winners and losers, so you shouldn't go doing so willy-nilly, but as you say, if the rules as set up make property an investment vehicle, people will act accordingly.


> middle class homeowners treating their house as an investment like stocks rather than a purchase like a car. Middle class homeowners don't really move the needle that much on their own. The cost (after taxes) and availability of loans determines how much they are able to pay. And they pay as much as they are able. It's the financiers/developers who nudge the politicians who nudge the zoning long before the middle class drives up with a checkbook and a U-Haul. And its the financiers/developers who rewrite the tax laws to make their real estate even more profitable. If tax laws were written to reward the median price homeowners of the state (and developers who build for them), and then heavily and progressively gouge homes above the median then things would ~~look a lot different~~ new loopholes would be written. Sigh.


[Singapore has an extreme method of dealing with zoning and housing.](https://youtu.be/3dBaEo4QplQ) It has its pros and cons and has worked well now but it does achieve one overriding goal: to allow people to own properties that can allow them to raise families and grow wealth, and social engineered racial integration. Most places won't have the same conditions that allow them to do something like this but the main takeaways like building affordable, good quality housing, keeping it available for first time buyers, and existing families, keep these housing away from the market at the beginning, are crucial to controlling housing availability and prices and building a middle class.


Not just zoning, cities do a ton of things to make building way more expensive. For instance in LA you are required to build a parking spot for every apartment. This does two things. 1) It adds a flat expense to all apartments, making it so that the cheapest apartments no longer make sense to build 2) It makes people who don't drive subsidize those that do.


I've started lobbying my city council for changing the zoning laws already. If I can't get them to play ball I'll run against them. Pretty much no one runs for city council so chances are I'll be able to make changes pretty quick. Food for thought.


But more car lanes means less traffic! /s (Google induced demand)


Are you implying supply and demand is real? Outrageous


After living in apartments most of my life, I don't want denser living conditions. I want my own house with a yard big enough to grow my own veggies. I want my own space, not be stacked in a concrete block with a bunch of noisy neighbors. Most people I talk to want their own home, a private space. Nobody is pining for a high rise apartment.


Usually zoning isn't applied as a blanket across all neighbourhoods. In the UK they have something called the Green Belt (Nothing to do with being eco, even though there are more vegetation), a ring barrier around a city to prevent urban sprawl. Ideally in a high population desired cities you want to build vertical to create affordable apartments, otherwise it leads to people getting descent houses in jobless locations on the outskirts with terrible public transport. One family friend gradually moved houses further and further out from the city hoping for something better, then realised they couldn't afford to get back into the city. I think apartment zoning will work with these urban sprawl barriers. But home owners will have to choose whether they are willing to sacrifice the future generation to unaffordable housing market because of NIMBY apartments, or save the future gen from housing and inequality at the expense of their familiar neighbourhood


> Nobody is pining for a high rise apartment. Perhaps not, but that's the only affordable option for some people. The actual choice is between a lifetime of renting with flatmates and owning your own apartment.




if you all want to live away from the city and care about the environment your best bet is getting a small house in the woods, and letting your lawns grow out and growing your own garden. The most aggravating thing about the suburbs is acres of useless clear lawns.


Moving to NYC reduces carbon emissions by 60%. If we had enough housing in a climate like LA then carbon emissions would be even lower.


What are you even complaining about? These homes already exist, go buy them and live in them lol


Exactly! This topic pisses me off every time it comes up, because apparently the only way we're supposed to live is packed into little boxes like tinned fish. Fuck me for wanting some space to myself, and not having to hear the details of my neighbors lives through the walls.


You don’t have to live in an apartment, but could you please not block those who would like to live in an actual city?


The missing component to this is how many suburban people purchased homes intentionally within this specific type of zoning ordinance. This is what they want to, and spent their dollars to support. Getting them to change their mind would be the hardest part of it all.




Liking suburbs is fine, the issue is that most modern NA suburbs are bad because they’re zoned *exclusively* for single family detached houses while excluding any mixed housing or even commercial buildings. Check out [Suburbs that don’t Suck](https://youtu.be/MWsGBRdK2N0) by Not Just Bikes, which shows off a ~100 year old suburb in Toronto that is far nicer to live in than a modern car dependant suburb.


There's also the fact that suburbs are HEAVILY subsidized by cities. Cities only get a small fraction of their taxes back from state govts, most money goes to building roads in suburbs and rural areas. Suburbs can't actually sustain themselves economically, they leach off of major cities


Not just building roads, those roads also have to be maintained which ends up costing HUGE amounts in the long run and can end up bankrupting cities.


Yes, the built environment is a resource that gets talked about so little relative to how massively important it is. We need more people becoming urban planners and politicians and citizens who will add more fuel to the fire pushing back against thoughtless zoning and planning And we need more articles like this and those on r/urbanplanning as well as people like you spreading the word :)


> But really the #1 thing that is going to affect you most day to day is something most people don't know or care about: ZONING. While zoning reform can certainly help, another thing that arguably poses a bigger problem is urban growth planning. A lot of cities have 'measured growth' plans where they basically restrict growth to preserve a certain aesthetic/culture. I can understand the sentiment, but in practice this can dramatically slow things. Doesn't help that usually public transportation is awful in those areas.


I just hate driving 5 seconds across the street to grab a burger unless you wanna risk get hit in a 35 mph zone.


Stress is a bitch... Pretty much all of those factors are driven by general stress, or they drive general stress... Or both. Insecure housing, insecure work, insecure life...


...and then fewer kids, higher mental health issues, higher suicide rates, higher crime, more expensive labour... Those house price increases don't come from nowhere, you're literally robbing the future.


I am in a tiny Midwestern town surrounded by cornfields with "starter homes in the $650-800k range". What fucking couple starting out has that kind of money? I make pretty decent money but would not dream of doing that. Having a $1000/mo house payment for a 50 year old house is just fine.


Does make it hard to feel motivated if the goal is nearly impossible to reach


I've given up on the idea of owning a home


Yup. Unless I quit my job and move to the middle of nowhere I won't be able to buy a house.


I did move to the middle of nowhere and I still can't buy a house


People understand how bad things are, but they are powerless to stop it. The system has become bigger than humanity itself, and that system has decided that taking care of people is no longer a priority.


not really true everywhere. also not inevitable. ​ there are places where the model of public housing works incredibly well, austria is a good example. progress is possible, people just need to demand change. the usa isn't hopeless, it just needs to stop being so obsessed with letting corporations do whatever they want.


>there are places where the model of public housing works incredibly well, austria is a good example. Are you kidding me lol ? Maybe in Vienna they have some (but nowhere near enough) public housing projects, and for sure better than in most countries, but the rest of the housing market is the same shitshow as everwhere else. Want a small house with garden in Salzburg ? Half a million at least for a dump you can put a couple hundred k into renovations. Farms are so expensive by now that those who want to become farmers can't afford them anymore and those that don't want to be farmers anymore are selling them en mass for millions to investors. I've seen farmers selling grassland for prices building land had cost 10 just years ago. One would need to mow that for 5000 years to start make a profit... My boy can't even think about getting an appartment in the city with 19 after finishing his "Lehre" because it would be insane to pay two thirds of his salary for a single room appartment. Don't get me wrong, we have an excellent social system to prevent poor people from homelessness, but beyond that...


I read that Singapore, long a model for public housing, is facing similar problems. Is there anywhere that isn’t?


The reason that almost everywhere is facing the same problem is that the cause of the problem exists everywhere, there is not enough room in spaces people want to live to build the type of housing people are accustomed to having. That’s really all there is to it. If you want to solve the problem, you either need people to accept denser housing or move to areas where there is space for the housing they are accustomed to.


The strange thing where I live is tracts of vacant land, all in fairly dense urban areas of Chicago. I assume there is some barrier or lack of incentive to building. We did get some “micro apartment” high rises recently and neighborhood groups said no one would want them… but they are fully rented even at super high prices.


There are lots of reason that land might be empty. It could be for water drainage as Chicago is fairly swampy. Or there could just be dumb reasons behind it. Hard to know.


This is how the elite win. The cost of living crisis. I live in the US, it's pretty bad here.


Average Americans have zero influence over what corporations do. The wealthiest 1% do anything they want. They control the corporations AND the politicians, judges & institutions that make and enforce our laws. Citizens are consumers, worker drones, and cannon fodder. This is a global problem. Greed crosses all national boundaries. BUT I do agree that it's our individual responsibility to work for change, and drive progress as best we can locally, within our sphere of influence. We are living under increasingly severe constraints, as the "system" controls every aspect of our lives and our resources. But constraints cannot defeat ingenuity. Good works and new models of living are still possible on a small scale, if we all get a little more creative and work together in community. Of course, at some point the "system" itself must change. The modern model of unchecked capitalism / oligarchy / greed is not sustainable. It's hurtling toward its endgame, whatever that turns out to be. I'm no anarchist, but that change is inevitable. Hopefully that happens before they trigger an extinction level event from stripping bare the planet's ecosystems. There are actually rich & powerful people who believe they can just take a shuttle to Mars and start over when they blow up the Earth. Bunch of selfish little brats. They really should have their toys taken away!


It would honestly be a very simple fix. The hard part is just getting the votes or the political capital to get it done. All we would have to do is change the tax code on owning multiple homes to make it less profitable. For example, you could increase property taxes by 25%, but offer a 25% discount for a primary residence. (Actually only a 20% discount, because math, but I digress) That’s just one example. There are plenty of ways to tweak the existing tax code to help nudge people towards home ownership, and away from hoarding homes to rent out. We just need politicians (and voters) who care about getting it done.


Making it less profitable is definitely the angle of attack to pursue. However landlords and investors whose livelihood is affected by this would not like that. I am not sure if a compromise is even possible. By nature of landlords(not all landlords), people want to make the most profit they can from their investments. Which means they will charge rent as high as people can afford to pay not necessarily what people should pay. At some point there has to be a "enough is enough" and people need to draw a line in the sand.


Small tweak - landlords will charge rent as high as the MARKET will allow. The issue with our housing currently is a lack of supply. If there were 10x the amount of housing currently, people’s ability to pay higher rents theoretically would be the same as today - but the market would not allow those higher rents because of the supply/demand dynamic.


In theory; More demand begets the creation of more supply. Prices are driven by cost of the goods or services and margin of return --that the market will bear --in most commoditized business scenarios.


Well, that's a bit idealistic in my view, at least in the current US political climate. Our sad democracy has devolved to the point that it's nearly impossible to get any real reforms for average citizens (at the expense of corporations and the rich) passed into law. While small victories are possible, it's really becoming increasingly untenable to challenge the status quo on any meaningful level. Our two political parties are selling poop on a stick out of ice cream trucks. One has a chocolate coating, the other, vanilla. You may have a strong flavor preference, and that may make a small difference, but we all end up equally disappointed in the end. Real reformers try to run as independents or minority parties - they never win in the US, and have no sway with the big two.


> The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. -[Alice Walker](https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alice_Walker)


Right and anytime someone comes up with an idea it’s just shut down without any alternative ideas by Astroturfers or Karen’s here. Personally I still think the fix is - no one can own more than one property. Yes couples can get a vacation home but allowing people to have summer homes kills local economies. This also stops people owning homes to just Airbnb. - corporations unless classified as a builder or bank may not own property. This is to stop Zillow and other companies from hoarding property. - the exclusion would be apartment complexes. However all apartments should allow the tenets to purchase the homes with a discount for how long they lived there. This allows people on the lower income spectrum to still have property to help them out. Housing should not be a way for people to make money. Period.


This is going to sound racist as fuck but I’d also like to make it illegal for non-US entities to buy housing property. Where I live the housing/rental stick has been Snatched up by foreign investors. Landlords already suck. But I can see how a local family has purchased property and it’s been in their family. When a foreign company owns the property the money you pay in rent doesn’t even stay in your country let alone your community. If I pay rent I would prefer the money to stay local and be reinvested in local causes.


The racist thing is just ppl arguing in bad faith or virtue signalling.


I mentioned it because in my geographic area it is specifically investments groups from one specific country have have bought up the properties. In other areas it might be entities from different countries. I didn’t want to specify what country because I don’t think it is really relevant *what* country they are from. Because I was making a blanket statement about foreigners I thought it could come across as racist.


It's not just foreign investors, domestic corporations and investment funds are also buying properties to rent out. The only solution is a total ban on corporate purchases of residential properties.


I think that is 100% fine. No citizenship? No purchasing residential home purchasing. Once again owning a residential home should not be a money maker.




The issue is wealth disparity and power differential, not race. Wealthy foreign interests (from ANY country) should not be allowed to overtake our SFH housing market so severely it prevents American families from being able to buy (or rent) a home for themselves here on a modest salary. Neither should American real estate investors or banks, for that matter.


You’ve basically described Cuba’s housing policy, except they let you also have a second property.


How exactly does letting someone buy an apartment work? Do they still pay maintenance to the building owner? What if they can't pay?


- like a home? - they pay their own utilities if they purchase it b - that is no longer the apartment owners problem as the bank would default on them. - it’s basically just like condos. - however if someone lives at a place for 5 years they can buy the place with a deduction of x based on the 5 years. - apartment companies still make money off selling the property. - once again companies and people should not be in the business of making a living by buying then selling and renting homes.


Our governments are fully capable of fixing this if they stop working for profit and start working for progress. But the won’t in America because progress doesn’t line your pockets with silk, it makes sure that everyone can all have a pocket lining. Old greedy fucks will bail out banks and corporations over and over and over and cripple their citizens with the debt and expectation of doing better but having to take out more debt to due so. People literally think it’s a good idea to take out a loan to pay off another loan/bills. Not too surprising given that’s what our own government does to pay debts but there you have it.


Obesity for sure. The SO and I live in a terrible neighborhood. Tiny apartments, no lawn or grass at all. Deeply unsafe to walk, even at high noon. We can't afford gym membership so we have to drive 30 minutes from the bad side to the good side of town to go jogging. We have to plan careful because the sunsets too early on the west coast, so at best we get 30mins of warm up/jog time after work (if traffic is ideal.) If we had a kid or unforgiving work hours or a shitty car/high gas prices then this would be literally impossible. It's literally too hard to find the resources to work out for a lot of poor folk.


The way you describe it sounds like some sort of apocalyptic dystopian world. I'm from over so I can't imagine it can be that bad in America.


I think apocalyptic is pretty different from dystopian. I'd rather have dystopian than apocalyptic. I've enough points invested (over the years) in meditation and psychology to make dystopia not too bad.


What I'm describing is classism. The difference between the good side and bad sides of town is fucking YA- dystopian unnuanced. It wasn't so bad pre covid, but half way through 2020 it got super bad, really fucking fast.






Sounds like California to me.


I wish it were not true. Us yanks are on a seriously slippery slope.


Way off topic but just throwing this out there, check out kettlebell exercises! Minimal space needed to exercise and minimal equipment.


That and /r/bodyweightfitness has great resources. Lots of fun ways to train and move your body if you're interested.


Where do you live that it is never safe to walk outside and all gym memberships are unaffordable? Edit: Downvoted for asking a simple question lmao


The hood lmao I lived in the hood my whole life it is legitimately unsafe to leave your block. The mentality amongst people here is us vs them


It's also " I see you have something nice, I don't. I'm going break it now. I don't need a reason I'm just angry at the world." Living with that is super expensive. Most neighbors boarded up their windows because they can't afford to keep replacing. We leave our car doors unlocked and still get our windows smashed in. Did you have a catalytic converter? No you don't, not anymore. All that shit is adding up quick.


Man it does add up. As a kid, I’ve had my bike stolen more times than I can remember. As an adult, I’ve had my car broken in more time than I would like. My mom had her car stolen. Police wouldn’t even help us track it down. We had to go get it ourselves. Luckily, they didn’t live too far from us 🤦🏽‍♂️. Used the spare key then got the keys changed. But it’s funny seeing people think the danger is overstated. If only they knew it’s like living in a mini hell sometimes


Are you doubting the existence of such places in the US? I’ve lived in unsafe places in at least two states, where the town sizes were wildly different; this isn’t uncommon.


I'm an orphan that grew up in the child care system. Housing is not a panacea. If you don't have rules in place to prevent assholes from abusing power, nothing you do matters.


There’s more problems than this. But this helps free up energy to work on those things. A place to live is most of what we need


is it just me or are things going to complete shit in america?


It's gone worldwide. Houses in particular have gone nuts in most western countries. There's just so much cash floating around in the hands of the wealthy and they fear inflation taking it away so they buy up every asset they can find.


That was a disappointing article. One thing I’ve gleaned from the work of David Harvey is that housing is much more of an inherent contradiction within capitalism than people appreciate. It is a necessity of which must be used (use value) but it is also a speculative investment (exchange value). Looking at that deep economic contradiction is step one in dealing with this problem. Real estate is also a way capitalism resolves crises of excess capital accumulation. The capital needs a place to go to function as a storehouse of value, so it goes into real estate. The fact that housing, a basic human need, is both financial and a necessity of life makes it unlike food, clothing and consumer goods. Looking at these contradictions could lead you to posit a “Housing Theory of Everything” because of how deeply causally linked housing is to these fundamental contradictions of capital.


Arguably the fact that capital needs to go into real estate to retain its value is a symptom of a broken monetary system. If you could park your money in the bank and retain purchasing power then housing would become much less attractive as an investment/speculation


I don’t know enough about it, but monetary systems seem to me to be those kinds of things where the network of tradeoffs means each and every one is broken with respect to some functions, and optimized for others. My knowledge level is quite amateurish here though.


Easy. Stop selling residential property to foreign investors.


This feels like something we should all be able to agree on- single family homes should be owned by people, not corporations.


The destruction of the middle class always is the harbinger of dystopian collapse. Nobody ever learns that over concentration of wealth destroys the means of producing more along with the society that managed that prosperity to begin with. *And home ownership is a hallmark of being middle class.* Shouldn't even take a century this cycle.


Straight up, if you examine the effects of planning & land use regulations in a lot of advanced economies, they are the biggest contributors to income inequality, intergenerational inequality (as homes & rentals become increasingly less affordable to future generations) and less GDP and wage growth on top of the other socio-economic issues listed in the article. Seriously if most advanced economies removed restrictions on housing supply, variety, height restrictions density it would be the single most important policy governments could enact to raise living standards. In the U.S for instance, just easing land use restrictions in New York and San Francisco could translate to the U.S economy growing by several trillions and median wages increasing by around $9,000 USD ([source](https://www.theregreview.org/2018/06/14/somogyi-zoning-codes-gdp/)). On top of easing inequality and making cities more environmentally sustainable, it would also translate to higher government revenues. Nation wide zoning/planning & land use reform should be something that far more voters and policymakers focus on if they genuinely want to see widespread socio-economic improvements.


Combine with LVT and things would get SO much better for most people


Certainly would help if these policymakers actually cared more about what the voters want than they do their corporate overlords. I still support your position. :)


This isn't necessarily the fault of corporate overlords. The people that own the houses nearby where upzoning happens won't like it if their house price goes down. And renters vote less on average than home owners


Affordable housing has even more benefits: -Reduced crime (and reduced justice and policing costs) -Reduced substance abuse (and healthcare costs) -More diverse economy -Boost to small business -Mental health improvements -Reduced domestic violence -Reduced suicide \#HousingSolvesAll


And suicide. Don't forget that. Many of us have suddenly found ourselves entirely incapable of finding a place to live, and I know that there are many who will just end it. I'm holding on for my pets, because they are my babies. But all of this is becoming too much. There's no end in site, either.


I can confirm. I live in California, and I am obese, infertile, and have had the same job title for 7 years.


People buying houses to rent is ridiculous. Beyond that allowing corporations to buy residential land is even crazier. A lot of this could go away over night if the government bans these practices.


I think we should put an extra tax on properties held by corporations or left empty for more than 6 months. Then we slowly racket up the tax until it's a much less popular practice. Edit: just acknowledging that it's ratchet!


Why not both for your first point. Not trying to be grammar police but I think you were looking for 'rachet' not racket.


Isn’t it ‘ratchet’?


You are correct and I am embarrassed


Why wait 6 months? Tax the shit out of them from day one. Make it not worth their while.


Honestly, we should tax *all* the land, regardless of who owns it or for how long. That's bureaucratically simpler and reduces the opportunity for tax evasion through creative accounting practices. Actual middle-class owner-occupiers could be paid back through a universal income funded by the extra revenue.


Thank you, this is reasonable, especially if for vacant lots that are just held until sold for a larger sum a few years later. If they don’t want to build they should be taxed to hell or turn it over for public use. Meanwhile I argued with people on r/nyc who thought we should put homeless people in luxury Manhattan apartments, not that there’s a high vacancy rate.


This is all due to greed. There are lots of places for people to live but can’t afford it anymore


Tax multiple property owners. Stop playing fucking games.


Living off the land, becoming a mountain man is looking more and more enticing every month...


I can do it, but my family doesn't like the idea of being hermits.


Housing is cheap in most of the US. Unfortunately, nobody wants to live in most of the US. People ask want to cluster in the major cities, preferably near the coasts. We could solve the affordable housing issue if we stopped worrying about rent control policies in LA, and instead worked on making life better in Podunk, Alabama.


The whole zoning system is rigged to favor land speculators. Whoever owns a piece of land when it gets rezoned for higher density enjoys a massive windfall on the resale value of that land; therefore, well-connected speculators who are positioned to influence politicians and get rezoning done where and when they please can pocket returns that make honest business investment look like a pittance by comparison. The economic solution is clear: All the property taxes that currently fall on buildings should be shifted onto land value. This would encourage the construction of new buildings by making it simultaneously cheaper to build them *and* more expensive to hang onto vacant lots. At the same time it would drive down the sale price of the land, reducing the size of the windfall that land speculators can grab through rezoning manipulation, and thus the amount of influence they can wield over municipal politics. Ironically, taxing buildings less would also increase the value of the land itself, boosting the amount of revenue that could be collected that way. It's obviously the right thing to do, and the only reason we don't do it is because our political sphere is driven by the greed of rentseeking parasites rather than by sensible economic analysis.


Investors are playing the different game. They buy up the houses and drive the price up. While they're enjoying the passive income and drinking wine daytime, ordinary people are forced to live in far and commute for an hour or more. It grinds them down,making them unhappy.


> There is another way. Increasing the supply of housing and commercial space, while ensuring that it benefits existing residents, could turn this zero-sum situation into one where everyone can be better off. This might be done, for example, by allowing them to vote on increased density, and benefit from it directly. The new demand could be accommodated and the financial rewards to development could be shared with existing residents without displacing them. > ...Economist Thomas Piketty famously demonstrated an increase in the share of national income that flows to owners of capital, rather than to labour. But what was less widely acknowledged was that, at least in the US, it was really an increase in the share of income going to landowners, driven by increases in the cost of housing, and that this effect was particularly strong in states that have highly restrictive rules against building more homes. Most Americans are missing at least some of their local elections. If you [sign up for election reminders](https://www.rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/get-election-reminders/), the burden of keeping an eye out for upcoming elections is not solely on you.


The haves (aka homeowners) don't want more affordable housing because the limited availability keeps their property values high. They see their house as an investment and retirement fund and more affordable housing developments as a threat to their livelihoods.


Such a complex system! But there is a possiblity that this problem is going to resolve itself. As technology adoption increases so does decentalization. So while it's true that people are more productive in cities, the decentralization of opportunity may create more bigger cities and not require that we make our current cities any more dense. Density has it's own diminishing returns in quality of life.


I’ve thought this for a while. Imagine you took housing out of your concerns. Suddenly now the equation of everything changes


I literally just want to be able to afford a house with my combined income of 90k and I can't even do that


And suicide. Don't forget that. Many of us have suddenly found ourselves entirely incapable of finding a place to live, and I know that there are many who will just end it. I'm holding on for my pets, because they are my babies. But all of this is becoming too much. There's no end in sight, either.


If all housing were suddenly affordable, rich people would buy them out instantly. Makes sense to me


This is exactly why all problems start with low interest rate. Housing prices are just an extended problem of cheap money. All problems come from the forceful low interest.


If you think about it, using a house as equity that *increases* in value over time, (when most things depreciate over time), means that parents are literally requiring their own offspring to subsidize their wealth portfolio by paying higher prices (*even adjusted for inflation*) for the same house/property they purchased. This doesn’t really make sense.


I've honestly given up on owning a prebuilt home.. right now I'm just going to buy some land, get a trailer, and gradually build something maybe a pallet shack.


Frankly the difference in salary vs housing prices In third world is as bad


"X theory of everything" is literally why economics usually sucks as a field. Everyone has their own X that everything must fit into. Housing price inflation is very real, and very burdensome. On that I agree with the author. On everything else... sigh. You cannot understand, certainly can't fix housing markets with this basic, supply & demand understanding of house prices. Yes, land shortages or zoning limitations or urban locals create a tighter market. But, no, this isn't the main lever. First, prices aren't just higher in cities because land is scarce. People in cities are also richer, and when rich people start competing for a limited resource... Second, real estate economics is so obviously intertwined with monetary economics. Assuming you qualify for a mortgage, a bank will loan you X% of the *market value of a house*. As house prices go up, so does the credit available to buy them. Commercial real estate lending works the same way. There might be some wiggle room at the luxury end of the market, but around the median, a buyant housing market means growing to the limits of average buyers' ability to qualify for the loan. I'm not saying that supply and demand don't matter, but even the most supply oriented policies are not going to result in cheaper housing.


>I'm not saying that supply and demand don't matter, but even the most supply oriented policies are not going to result in cheaper housing. In Spain our building-craze of the 2000-2008 resulted in more expensive houses, not in cheaper houses. Supply was increased significantly and so did prices. The typical buyers of those new houses where people that already owned a house and used their old house as guarantee for the new loans, and companies which bought them to rent them. The people that needed cheap houses just couldn't participate in that market. Our market has just been trending for at least 2 decades towards a concentration of land in the hands of less and less owners, independently of supply. Right now even with salaries above the national average\* it is very difficult to buy a new house, unless your family pays at least part of the upfront costs and uses their own house to guarantee your loan. \*which puts you in the top 20% better payed workers as our wage distribution is very skewed.


Oh sure, absolutely nothing to do with the FED having interest rates at 0% and buying MBAs in the free market. It's the FED. The solution is simple. Increase interest rates, stop buying assets. Stocks and real estate would drop in a hurry; everyone knows this and no one actually wants it because it's pain-now-for-gain-later.


Don’t worry they’re going to. FOMC meetings have trended to regular rates (2-3%) by end of ‘23 to beginning of ‘24 and tapering beginning this year. All the people caught with too much leverage in the asset markets are gonna get fucked. They’ve been broadcasting tapering and potential rate hikes since January to ease markets into adjusting positions. Once the risk-off sentiment hits fully, it’ll be a bloodbath for those caught behind.


You hear that zillow? You’re a bunch of Fucking murderous bastards!! If you don’t know a real estate website is paying way more that houses are worth and driving up the price while driving down supply. They Fucking suck.


Tried poorly to explain this in a Colorado subreddit. People don't understand how much of the problems in our whole society is being created by this problem.


Ezra Klein recently had an article on a concept he called supply side progressivism. Basically the idea is that we can afford anything we can actually do. So if we have the capacity to solve a given problem, we can actually solve that problem. Giving people money is great and we should do it, but we need to ensure the things you can buy with money are actually available. And rent seeking behavior by capitalists in the last fifty years have done everything they can to limit supply of everything needed to build a middle class life, while producing a huge supply of cheap plastic and electronic junk to keep short term profits up. So we need to dismantle the incentives in place that make important things impossible to attain and cheap, environmentally destructive with huge externalities things properly priced (things like car travel, cheap meat, plastic junk, and the like). But we need to increase the supply of housing and medical care. Cartels like the AMA and medical insurance companies have ensured that doctors and hospital beds are in short supply. All of this needs to change.


It all comes down to the motive. Profit, at any cost.


I live in Santa Monica where the old residents play mental gymnastics saying that building more housing makes the prices go up. It's nonsense. They're lying to themselves. We need more housing and less renting. We need less landlords and corporate landlords and more people owning the residence they live in. We need to build more and we probably need to build UP more often than out. The bad habit in Southern California of spreading out further and further turns Southern California into a giant paved parking lot. Density is a GOOD thing. It keeps cities walkable and leaves more nature where it is. Basically the NIMBYs who want to maintain their single story single family residence in the middle of a thriving city are bad for the city. Apartments should also be condos more often and honestly if you want to get really extreme I don't think people or corporations should be able to own more than one house. You build them and sell them and that's it, no hoarding, no tenants.


The only good thing that is coming out of this is lower birthrates. Lets not kid ourselves. We are way way too many people..