Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Gentry

I cannot recall in any of the Democratic debates a discussion on two major issues: Housing and Education.  These are the two most significant factors that contribute to Segregation and Income Inequality aka Meritocracy.  But hey we got to trash Trump to prove we can win.  Good to know that pugilism is the metric to measure a candidate.

And in turn that brings to mind the passing remarks by Bloomberg on the 2008 crisis that smacked of racism, which again stop and frisk do as well or his overall misogyny and sexism but hey that is one issue that they have no problem talking about.  Again there are many issues of import but housing is an essential issue and if you forget the dynamo ,Ben Carson is our current Secretary HUD.   His views on this subject to say the least are not that different from Bloomberg.  But his tastes run like his boss, Trump, clearly.

But there is a major crisis in California, which Trump has been quite vocal about, just not in a positive way but hey at least he actually knows about it.  First up this article:

'It's a cycle': the disproportionate toll of homelessness on San Francisco's African Americans
Broken dreams: inside California's housing crisis

Vivian Ho in San Francisco
Fri 21 Feb 2020 
When Tracey Mixon walks out her door in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, she is more likely to meet another black person than in most places in the city.
The Tenderloin is where many of the city’s homeless services are centered, making it a hub for the unhoused as they seek help. In a city where the black population teeters between 5% and 6%, 37% of its growing homeless population is black. “They sleep outside of my building,” Mixon, 49, said.
“They’re people I’ve known for years. They went from having places to live to being out out there on the streets. With me living in the Tenderloin, I see a lot of these people all the time and it hurts for me to see so many black people out there.”
In a state where a housing crisis has given way to a surge in homelessness, a disproportionate number of those experiencing housing instability are black. In Los Angeles, 37.5% of the homeless population is black, while in Oakland, where 70% of the homeless population is black, whole homeless encampments are dedicated to black and Latinx people.
The disparity is reflected nationwide. Although black people made up 13.4% of the overall population, according to the latest US census data, 39.8% of all homeless people were black.
Mixon joined a group with the Coalition on Homelessness on Thursday, going from office to office in San Francisco City Hall to bring attention to this racial disparity during Black History Month. Just nine months ago, Mixon was homeless too, along with her nine-year-old daughter. For almost a year, she said, she and her daughter lived in shelters, hotel rooms and on the couches of family and friends.
“It was tough,” said Mixon, who is now a peer organizer for the Coalition on Homelessness. “I made sure she was in school every day. I made sure I was at work every day. Just because we were homeless, I didn’t want our routine to be stopped.”
More and more throughout California, the homeless find themselves in similar circumstances as Mixon and her daughter: holding down jobs, making a decent living, going to school – just not able to find an affordable place to live.
In the office of the San Francisco lawmaker Rafael Mandelman, Miquesha Willis broke down in tears talking about her current situation.

“It’s a cycle, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” she said in an interview. “My wages are OK, but it’s not enough for San Francisco. It’s not enough for market-rate rent. It’s too much for below market-rate rent. I’m still trying to increase my wages to beat homelessness here. It’s crazy.”
In cities like San Francisco, black communities are getting pushed out as rent prices get jacked up. Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the black population fell by 19% in San Francisco and almost 23% in Oakland. Black residents are forced to move farther inland to places where housing is cheaper, such as Antioch and Stockton – even though for many, their jobs remain in the city.
Willis tried moving to Antioch but couldn’t make the commute work. Her job required her to clock in before public transportation began running on some days, and her car broke down, making it impossible for her to get to work.
Like so many people her age, Willis is questioning what she wants to do for a living – if it would be worth it to finish college, to try starting her own business, to switch careers. San Francisco made its name this century as the hub for the latest tech boom, where anyone with a startup idea could come and achieve their dreams. But Willis has found that San Francisco is only a welcoming place only for some, for those who can afford the privilege to fail.
“There are people who are trying to make things happen for themselves and trying to grow in their career and make something happen for their families,” she said. “This is one of the highest-paying cities. Why are so many people struggling here?”

Next up Costs:

Why Does It Cost $750,000 to Build Affordable Housing in San Francisco?
As California’s governor vows to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis, housing “insanity” stands in the way.

By Thomas Fuller  The New York Times Feb. 20, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO — The average home in the United States costs around $240,000. But in San Francisco, the world’s most expensive place for construction, a two-bedroom apartment of what passes for affordable housing costs around $750,000 just to build.
California’s staggering housing costs have become the most significant driver of inequality in the state. On Wednesday, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, mentioned the issue 35 times during an impassioned speech, urging lawmakers to solve the state’s homelessness crisis by building more and faster.
But the vertiginous prices of housing in California show how difficult that will be.
Building affordable housing in California costs on average three times as much as Texas or Illinois, according to the federal government.
The reasons for California’s high costs, developers and housing experts say, begin with the price of land and labor in the state. In San Francisco a construction worker earns around $90 an hour on average, according to Turner & Townsend, a real estate consulting company.

Not taking into account the price of land, around one quarter of the cost of building affordable housing goes to government fees, permits and consulting companies, according to a 2014 study by the California Department of Housing and Community
For a building to be defined as affordable housing it typically obtains tax credits and subsidies. A single affordable housing project requires financing from an average of six different sources — federal, state and local agencies, said Carolina Reid, a researcher at the Terner Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of a forthcoming analysis of affordable housing costs.
She called the process “death by a thousand cuts.”
Senator Brian Jones, a member of California’s State Senate, remembers laboring over an affordable housing project when he was on the City Council of Santee, Calif., near San Diego.
“It literally took us on the City Council six months to get all of our attorneys, all the developer’s attorneys, all the federal government’s attorneys, to agree on the paperwork. And that was just the financing,” Mr. Jones said.
“I walked away from that process and told the developer I cannot believe this project is going to employ more attorneys than construction workers to get built.”
Mr. Jones, who is head of the Republican caucus in the Senate, argues that California’s housing market is vastly overregulated, starting with California Environmental Quality Act.
California law permits anyone to object to a project under the act, which when it was signed by then Governor Ronald Reagan in 1970 was seen as a landmark effort to protect the environment from reckless development.
Today the law is often used as a legal battle ax by anyone who wants to slow a project down or scuttle it altogether, Mr. Jones and many developers and experts say.
“At very little cost one individual can take a project and tie it up in years of litigation,” said Douglas Abbey, a lecturer on real estate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Environmental protection is cherished in California but there is also bipartisan agreement that housing prices are too high. Mr. Newsom has pushed through exemptions to the California Environmental Quality Act for homeless shelters, and he says the state should consider more exemptions.
Mr. Abbey, a former developer and real estate investor, says good intentions are backfiring. He argues that laws requiring developers to build a certain percentage of affordable housing as part of their market-rate projects are a hidden tax and a drag on overall housing construction
“What the state government and local governments need to recognize is that the housing shortage is purely a supply problem,” Mr. Abbey said. “There are burdens to introducing new housing.”
It’s not uncommon for a project in California to be mired for many years in paperwork over zoning or objections by other property owners before ground is broken.
Judson True, the director of a department in San Francisco city hall that seeks to speed up housing construction projects, says the process of building affordable housing is far too cumbersome.
“Nothing this important should take this long or be this hard,” he said.
Last year San Francisco broke ground on 767 subsidized affordable apartments.
“It’s nowhere near what we need,” Mr. True said.
San Francisco has the highest overall building costs in the world, according to a 2019 report by Turner & Townsend.
The average costs of construction in San Francisco are 13 percent higher than New York, 60 percent more expensive than Chicago and 75 percent more than in Houston, according to the report.
It costs seven times more to build in San Francisco, America’s hub of technology, than in India’s technology capital, Bangalore.
Mr. Newsom says he recognizes the threat that the high costs pose to efforts to get people off the streets.
The average cost of a single affordable housing unit is around $500,000 in Los Angeles and around $600,000 in Oakland, according to data by the Terner Center.
“One word insanity — it’s just insanity,” Mr. Newsom said in an interview last month.
If affordable housing cannot be built more cheaply, he said, “taxpayers aren’t going to support these bonds.”
Mr. Newsom’s budget this year calls for $6.8 billion in affordable housing funding including mortgage assistance for first-time buyers and bonds for veterans’ housing.
Mr. Newsom says he is counting on innovations in housing construction to help reduce costs.
But even with significant savings, housing experts say it would be impossible at current cost levels to build homes for the state’s entire homeless population.
It would cost somewhere around $70 billion to build housing for its current homeless population of 150,000.
Professor Reid at the Terner Center says she agrees with Mr. Newsom’s emergency efforts to get people off the streets and into shelters as well as preventing people who have homes from losing them.
But California, she says, does not have the resources to build enough housing for the state’s current homeless population, not to mention those who might become homeless in years to come.
“We are not going to solve the homelessness crisis if what people are expecting is that cities are going to build affordable housing for every one of those individuals,” Professor Reid said.
“It’s going to cost way too much.”
So we have lack of housing, cost to build housing and of course the biggest factor NIMBY.

BUILD BUILD BUILDWhen California’s housing crisis slammed into a wealthy suburb, one public servant became a convert to a radically simple doctrine.
By Conor Dougherty
The New York Times
Adapted from the Book:  GOLDEN GATES: Fighting for Housing in America.
Published Feb. 13, 2020

The City Council of Lafayette, Calif., met the public two Mondays a month, and Steve Falk liked to sit off by himself, near the fire exit of the auditorium, so that he could observe from the widest possible vantage. Trim, with a graying buzz cut, Mr. Falk was the city manager — basically the chief executive — of Lafayette, a wealthy suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area that is notoriously antagonistic to development.
With a population of just 25,000, Lafayette was wealthy because it was a small town next to a big town, and it maintained its status by keeping the big town out. Locals tended to react to new building projects with suspicion or even hostility, and over a series of Mondays in 2012 and 2013, Mr. Falk took his usual spot by the fire exit to watch several dozen of his fellow Lafayetters absolutely lose their minds.
A developer had proposed putting 315 apartments on a choice parcel along Deer Hill Road — close to a Bay Area Rapid Transit station, and smack in the view of a bunch of high-dollar properties. This wasn’t just big. The project, which the developer called the Terraces of Lafayette, would be the biggest development in the suburb’s history. Zoning rules allowed it, but neighbors seemed to feel that if their opposition was vehement enough, it could keep the Terraces unbuilt.
In letters to elected officials, and at the open microphone that Mr. Falk observed at the City Council meetings, residents said things like “too aggressive,” “not respectful,” “embarrassment,” “outraged,” “audacity,” “very urban,” “deeply upset,” “unsightly,” “monstrosity,” “inconceivable,” “simply outrageous,” “vehemently opposed,” “sheer scope,” “very wrong,” “blocking views,” “does not conform,” “property values will be destroyed,” and “will allow more crime to be committed.”
Mr. Falk could see where this was going. There would be years of hearings and design reviews and historical assessments and environmental reports. Voters would protest, the council would deny the project, the developer would sue. Lafayette would get mired in an expensive case that it would likely lose. As Mr. Falk saw it, anything he could do to prevent that fate would serve the public interest. So he called the developer, a man named Dennis O’Brien, and requested a meeting.
Mr. Falk had once taken a course on negotiation at Harvard, where he learned that people are supposed to be more reasonable when they bargain over food. He went to a deli and bought baguettes, a wheel of Brie and bunches of red grapes. He laid the spread on a conference room table and cut the bread into slices and put down little cheese spreaders and surrounded it with the grapes.
Mr. O’Brien was roughly the color of those grapes when he walked in with some aides, and Mr. Falk accepted that for the next few hours he would be the recipient of the developer’s frustrations. But before it got to that, he told everyone, he wanted them to eat.
The room was silent. Mr. Falk explained the whole deal about his negotiation class. The room remained silent. Mr. Falk looked at Mr. O’Brien and said, Dennis, look, I don’t even know you, but you have to eat something, even if it’s one grape, before I’ll talk to you. That at least got people laughing, and pretty soon everyone acceded to the bread and cheese and grapes.
America has a housing crisis. The homeownership rate for young adults is at a multidecade low, and about a quarter of renters send more than half their income to the landlord. Homelessness is resurgent, eviction displaces a million households a year, and about four million people spend at least three hours driving to and from work.
One need only look out an airplane window to see that this has nothing to do with a lack of space. It’s the concentration of opportunity and the rising cost of being near it. It says much about today’s winner-take-all economy that many of the cities with the most glaring epidemics of homelessness are growing centers of technology and finance. There is, simply put, a dire shortage of housing in places where people and companies want to live — and reactionary local politics that fight every effort to add more homes.
Nearly all of the biggest challenges in America are, at some level, a housing problem. Rising home costs are a major driver of segregation, inequality, and racial and generational wealth gaps. You can’t talk about education or the shrinking middle class without talking about how much it costs to live near good schools and high-paying jobs. Transportation accounts for about a third of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, so there’s no serious plan for climate change that doesn’t begin with a conversation about how to alter the urban landscape so that people can live closer to work.
Commuters at the Lafayette BART station.Credit...Ian C. Bates for The New York Times
Nowhere is this more evident than California. It’s true that the state is addressing facets of the mess, with efforts on rent control, subsidized housing and homelessness. But the hardest remedy to implement, it turns out, is the most obvious: Build more housing.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the state needs to create 3.5 million homes by 2025 — more than triple the current pace — to even dent its affordability problems. Hitting that number will require building more everything: Subsidized housing. Market-rate housing. Homes, apartments, condos and co-ops. Three hundred and fifteen apartments on prime parcels of towns like Lafayette.
Legislation is important, but history suggests it can do only so much. In the early 1980s, during another housing crisis, California passed a host of bills designed to streamline housing production and punish cities that didn’t comply. But the housing gap has persisted, and more recent efforts have also failed. In late January, the Legislature rejected S.B. 50, a bill that would have pushed cities to accept four- to five-story buildings in amenity-laden areas.
What this suggests is that the real solution will have to be sociological. People have to realize that homelessness is connected to housing prices. They have to accept it’s hypocritical to say that you don’t like density but are worried about climate change. They have to internalize the lesson that if they want their children to have a stable financial future, they have to make space. They are going to have to change.
Steve Falk changed. When he first heard about Dennis O’Brien’s project, he thought it was stupid: a case study, in ugly stucco, of runaway development. He believed the Bay Area needed more housing, but he was also a dyed-in-the-wool localist who thought cities should decide where and how it was built. Then that belief started to unravel.
Today, after eight years of struggle, his career with the city is over, the Deer Hill Road site is still just a mass of dirt and shrubs, and Mr. Falk has become an outspoken proponent of taking local control away from cities like the one he used to lead.
Although he didn’t know it at the time, Mr. Falk’s transformation began in 2015, with a phone call from a woman he’d never heard of, with a complaint he had never once fielded in his 25 years working for the city. Her name was Sonja Trauss, and she thought the Deer Hill Road project was too small.
Ms. Trauss was a lifelong rabble-rouser and former high school teacher, who’d recently become a full-time housing activist. She made her public debut a couple of years earlier, at a planning meeting at San Francisco City Hall. When it was time for public comment, she stepped to the microphone and addressed the commissioners, speaking in favor of a housing development. She returned to praise another one. And another. And another.
In backing every single project in the development pipeline that day, Ms. Trauss laid out a platform that would make her a celebrity of Bay Area politics: how expensive new housing today would become affordable old housing tomorrow, how San Francisco was blowing its chance to harness the energy of an economic boom to mass-build homes that generations of residents could enjoy. She didn’t care if a proposal was for apartments or condos or how much money its future residents had. It was a universal platform of more. Ms. Trauss was for anything and everything, so long as it was built tall and fast and had people living in it.
The data was on her side. From 2010 to 2015, Bay Area cities consistently added many more jobs than housing units — in some cases at a ratio of eight to one, way beyond the rate of one and a half jobs per housing unit that planners consider healthy. In essence, the policy was to enthusiastically encourage people to move there for work while equally enthusiastically discouraging developers from building places for those people to live, stoking a generational battle in which the rising cost of housing enriched people who already owned it and deterred anyone who wasn’t well paid or well off from showing up.
Ms. Trauss organized supporters into a group called the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation, or SF BARF, which was amateur even by local activist standards. But amateur was the point, part of Ms. Trauss’s knack for getting attention. She drove a glittery orange Crown Victoria, showed up to municipal meetings in leggings and white cowboy boots, and spoke in pop philosophical monologues, like declaring that the reason people don’t like new buildings is that it reminds them that they’re going to die.
Her aims were explicitly revolutionary. She told people that her goal wasn’t to enact any particular housing policy, but to alter social mores such that neighbors who fought development ceased being regarded as stewards of good taste and instead came to be viewed as selfish hoarders.
Ms. Trauss started to attract the attention of wealthy donors like Jeremy Stoppelman, the co-founder of Yelp, who had started to worry about housing costs crimping economic growth. And her tactics got more sophisticated. With a friend, Brian Hanlon, who worked a desk job at the United States Forest Service, she co-founded a nonprofit called the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, or CARLA. Its mission: “Sue the suburbs.” After reading about an obscure 1982 California law called the Housing Accountability Act, Ms. Trauss decided to try to use it to force Lafayette to build Dennis O’Brien’s 315 apartments.
By then — 2015 — Mr. Falk had been working on the Deer Hill Road project for years. Through dozens of meetings with Mr. O’Brien, he’d hammered out a deal for a more modest development of 44 single-family homes, as well as an agreement to build the city a soccer field and dog park. Mr. Falk was a frequent user of the analogy about sausage-making, and this was definitely some sausage, but he walked out of his talks with Mr. O’Brien feeling like an A‑plus public servant who might have a second career in conflict resolution. When Ms. Trauss phoned him to say the 44-home approach was entirely inadequate, Mr. Falk tried to persuade her otherwise. Of course, he never had a chance.
At a City Council meeting a week later, Mr. Falk noticed a gaggle of BARFers, throbbing with the conspiratorial energy of teenagers before a prank. The microphone was already going to be crowded. Neighbors had formed a vociferous nonprofit called Save Lafayette, which opposed both the 315-apartment idea and the 44-house compromise on grounds from view-ruination to carcinogenic construction dust. Mr. Falk sat by the fire exit and watched as BARF and Save Lafayette collided at the podium, one side arguing the project was too small, and the other arguing it was too big.
“I’m somewhat disturbed by all these parties from outside my neighborhood telling me that I should accept this degradation to my quality of life,” said one Lafayette resident, Ian Kallen.
“No human being is a degradation,” retorted an SF BARF member named Armand Domalewski. “Let’s talk about the economic benefits of adding people instead of simply treating them as costs.”
When it was Ms. Trauss’s turn to speak, she argued that the entire notion of public comment on new construction was inherently flawed, because the beneficiaries — the people who would eventually live in the buildings — couldn’t argue their side.
“An ordinary political process like a sales tax — both sides have an opportunity to show up and say whether they’re for or against it,” she said. “But when you have a new project like this, where are the 700-plus people who would initially move in, much less the tens of thousands of people who would live in it over the lifetime of the project? Those people don’t know who they are yet.
Ms. Trauss sued a few months later. The great irony was that nobody was more unhappy about it than Mr. O’Brien. He had spent years and millions of dollars proposing two completely different projects. Now some activist group he’d never heard of was suing the city, and him, on behalf of his original project — in essence, suing him on behalf of him.
CARLA’s lawyer had the impossible job of trying to convince a judge that Lafayette had unfairly forced Mr. O’Brien to build 44 houses instead of 315 apartments, while Mr. O’Brien sat on the other side more or less going, No they didn’t. CARLA lost the argument, but after it threatened to appeal, Mr. O’Brien ended up agreeing to pay its legal fees. He had now argued, and paid for, both sides of the same case.
Other litigation continued. Members of Save Lafayette sued to force a referendum where residents could rescind the 44-home plan, and eventually, they succeeded. Ms. Trauss and her fellow insurrectionists moved on to other battles, filing more lawsuits for more housing until they started winning. Meanwhile, the movement she helped found — YIMBY, for Yes in My Back Yard — has become an international phenomenon, with supporters in dozens of housing-burdened regions including Seattle; Boulder, Colo.; Boston; Austin, Texas; London and Vancouver.
Development battles are fought hyperlocally, but the issues are resonating everywhere. In late 2018, Minneapolis became the first major city in America to effectively end single-family zoning. Oregon followed soon after. California and New York have significantly expanded protections for renters. And as more economists give credence to the notion that a housing crisis can materially harm G.D.P., by exacerbating inequality and reducing opportunity, all of the Democratic presidential candidates have put forth major housing proposals.
They run the gamut from tax breaks for renters, to calls for more affordable housing funds, to plans for bringing federal muscle to bear on zoning reform. These ideas share a central conflict: Can city leaders — who in theory know local conditions best — be trusted to build the housing we need? Or will they continue to pursue policies that pump up property values, perpetuate sprawl, and punish low-income renters?
Mr. Falk began his career on the local control side of that debate. But somewhere along the Deer Hill odyssey, he started to sympathize with his insurrectionist opponents. His son lived in San Francisco and paid a fortune to live with a pile of roommates. His daughter was a dancer in New York, where the housing crunch was just as bad. It was hard to watch his kids struggle with rent and not start to think that maybe Ms. Trauss had a point.
“I’m not sure individual cities, left to their own devices, are going to solve this,” he told me once. “They don’t have the incentive to do so, because local voters are always going to protect their own interests instead of looking out for people who don’t live there yet.”
So he started to rebel. When California’s governor at the time, Jerry Brown, threatened to override local control with a proposal to allow developers to build urban apartments “as of right” — bypassing most of the public process and hearings — Lafayette citizens were apoplectic. Mr. Falk, against his own interest, wrote a memo in favor of the idea.
“Cannot be trusted,” “ineptitude,” “disingenuously manipulating the City Council,” “should be publicly and explicitly reprimanded” — these were some of the things citizens said in response. His future was untenable. The City Council reprimanded him, and when it came time for his contract negotiation, members of Save Lafayette protested a clause that would guarantee him severance of 18 months of pay if he was ever fired; a few months later he forfeited the amount — close to half a million dollars — and resigned.
“A city manager has a choice: You can just sit there and be this kind of neutral policy implementer, or you can insert yourself,” Mr. Falk said. “Sitting in your office all day long, you have to ask the question, ‘Why am I here, why am I doing this work?’ At some point, I just think it’s natural that you start making recommendations that you think are in the best interest, not just for the community, but society.”
It’s hard to look at what happened in Lafayette and see a population that acted rationally. After the 44-home plan was derailed, Mr. O’Brien activated an insurance policy that few people knew about: The terms of his negotiation with Mr. Falk allowed him to return to his original plan for 315 apartments. When residents learned at a City Council meeting that their agitation might have brought them full circle, they got so angry that a sheriff offered to escort one of Mr. O’Brien’s employees to her car.
Mr. Falk, on the other hand, seems at peace. At the council meeting marking his departure, he sat, uncharacteristically, up front. The mayor gave him the honor of leading the room in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Falk had a resignation letter in front of him, but told the audience that he was only going to read it in part.
The portion he read was polite. It was about how he loved the city and believed Lafayette was a model of civility and democratic engagement and had a brilliant and professional staff. Afterward, people said nice things and Mr. Falk nodded thank you. The paragraphs he didn’t read became public soon enough — and started making the rounds on Twitter.
“All cities — even small ones — have a responsibility to address the most significant challenges of our time: climate change, income inequality, and housing affordability,” Mr. Falk had written. “I believe that adding multifamily housing at the BART station is the best way for Lafayette to do its part, and it has therefore become increasingly difficult for me to support, advocate for, or implement policies that would thwart transit density. My conscience won’t allow it.”

I will say that permits, costs, labor and land are all factors in the urban sector why housing costs are high and when built apartments, condos and single family dwellings are ultimately expensive in proportion to wages and earnings.  The reality is that while many developers are getting low interest loans, often tax credits for building in opportunity zones or districts/areas labeled as such to encourage gentrification and in turn mixed building growth we also have dilapidated housing stock, homes on the edge still of foreclosure thanks to the 2008 crisis, a bizarre obsession with flipping houses as a type of business to bring both fame and riches thanks to Chip and Joanna (who no longer do said business) or Property Brothers who only do it for TV but there are many many more that litter the landscape of television and of course a still low interest rate that entice buyers to buy now as it may not last, the only difference is that banks are supposedly doing due diligence to verify income and ensuring that the loan, home value and costs are legally within the spectrum of bank and federal lending regulations.  Sure they are sure.   I personally heard two women with very low incomes tell others that they were pre-approved to buy a home. Really? One was a Waitress/Social Influencer, the other a clerk at a treatment center.  Both women lived in Nashville where wages have not come up to parity with the nation and in proportion to the cost of housing so let me know that banks' name as they sound great to get money.  But in this case Nashville is not the exception it just is already shady and in turn they had not been hit in 2008 as the rest of the nation as its designation of an it city came after the flood of 2010 with it the rush to (re) build happened and the flux of cash from out of state buyers/investors resulted.  Then the 2018 tax bill that created in the urban core (where I lived) to be labeled an opportunity zone further pushed the gentrification and rise in costs to live in what was basically a train stop on an access road to the fairgrounds.  But then the permit to the stadium occurred and wow just wow an already over trafficked road will become more so and the rise of taxes, land and costs comes with it.  Again careful what you wish for.

And that is the reality behind housing and the costs the idea that homes are not dwellings in which to live more affordably and have better control of costs and well just own a home to have a sense of permanence and community it became the largest source of personal wealth and investment.

This is from an interview with the Author of the above book:
I think such an important point that often gets lost is the idea that housing went from being a place for somebody to live to an investment and a primary wealth builder. 
The book kind of talks about how that began in the 1970s, during the Great Inflation. It is a huge piece, because housing has kind of become our pension program, kind of become our inheritance program. 
Property has always had a lot of wealth and inheritance tied up in it. So that’s not exactly new. 
But in the Great Recession, there was a lot of talk about how people were using their home equity as an A.T.M. And so it’s really become this financial instrument. Not surprisingly, people defend that financial instrument the same way they defend themselves from higher taxes or whatnot.
You look at America today, and we have the housing crisis. We have a huge homeless problem. We have a huge rent burden problem. A quarter of renters spend more than half their income on rent. And so this uniquely American indicator of wealth has gone totally wrong.

An issue is the home owner tax credit and of course the concept of second and third homes, just ask Jeff Bezos about that.   There is no rental credit that could enable those like myself to find a return on renting if in fact it is over 50% of one's income.  That we built into the tax system an enabler to force if not encourage home ownership  cannot be denied and the same could be for the marriage credit. Gosh what is the message there? Maybe I need a marriage of convenience or one of living apart together. 

That income tax write off being removed in the same 2017 tax bill as well as property taxes are large reasons why New York and New Jersey are finding themselves as the states with the most migration out in history followed by California again due to cost of housing and the decimation of region due to wildfires that did not help; However, again California like New York and the tri state region are still the magnets for the most educated and most well off in America.  So no shortage of housing here for those of the 1% and yet even a surplus of luxury housing that will take an estimate of seven years in which to be disbursed.

But this is region that has rental fees paid to brokers that can be from 1/3 of the rent to a full month rent(which does little to discourage negotiating).  Here in Jersey City it took me about two days working and by working I mean contacting and dealing with largely bullshit to find a rental to realize I was fine doing it on my own.  I was asked how I did so and it was fairly easy. First I got on light rail and go off each stop and walked within a five minutes radius, walked in asked if I could see a unit, get information or make an appointment.  No costs, no fees no hassles. And I found the Agents from the buildings were way more informative, helpful and followed up without effort.  Funny the agents who wanted me to pay them a fee equivalent to the months rent of my future home were total assholes. And all of those rentals were obtained via Zillow and yet they were utterly unhelpful, rude and half the time invisible.  Two I never met and another refused to even show me a unit unless I gave him my financials.   Here is the deal - you want me to pay you than do something for me not just text me an address, not show up, show up late, tell me about the unit and then walk off and text me another unit miles away that you could have taken me to, shown me and asked me my needs, ideal rent and show me a series of units that were in varying neighborhoods and be honest about the pros and cons.  They were my first introduction to Jersey City and I thought "Uh oh this is Nashville all over again" and then I had a convo with a Bartender who said you don't have to pay a dime and once I got that bit of advice I was off on my own with a series of prospective units and the ability to negotiate directly with the Agent on site. Funny how that works out.

Funny that while liberals are often maligned in finding solutions, two former homes Berkeley and Seattle have tried to at least address if not find ways to resolve the problem. This is the rental opportunity plan devised in Berkeley and having lived there and Oakland I can tell you first hand that what was once cool is now another lost cause in the extension of Silicon Valley.  That is one large green valley and by green with money to throw at anyone to buy homes.  In Seattle the housing crisis is not unlike San Francisco with limited available housing largely due to incessant regulations and lack of build for decades but of late the mass exodus of residents lead again to an odd balancing out with  bidding wars coming to a close along with new apartment/condo buildings being constructed that ended some of this on its own. But what was quite controversial was the HALA program that came into existence in about 2015 and it changed the dynamics.   That program has been concluded but it does provide a through examination of what it takes to change a crisis into less of one.  Not perfect it has some pluses and minuses but again this is what it is like in Seattle, people do occasionally rise to the occasion.  This article discusses the HALA plan and this is well worth reading if you are not already on overload.  This subject is one that can seriously put one on overload given the history as well as the present information on the issue.

I would love to own a home of my own to have the furnishings and fixtures I pick, to have the ability to have something that is mine and mine alone.   I don't love living in a big apartment building and this is my first time doing so and while it has many pluses it has equally as many negatives. That said as I age I have to think what that means with regards to maintenance and to upkeep and that is another issue that frankly many must face so here we are with most of the candidates well over 60 and I am hearing nothing about what it means to age in America.  But that is another post for another time.

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