Housing

The Cost of NOT Housing: A New Report

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This is the introduction to an new report "The Cost of NOT Housing" authored by Joel Kotkin for the National CORE Symposium on Affordability of Housing. Download the entire report (pdf) here.

It is a commonplace view that housing does not contribute to the overall fiscal and economic condition of cities. Recent trends—both nationally and here in California—suggest that this is not the case. New housing, including affordable units, provide some direct stimulation through construction jobs, but also allow people, particularly young families, to stay, work and shop locally. Lack of affordable housing ultimately drives people, particularly the entry level and young educated, out of regions where their labor would be coveted by local companies.  read more »

Are Compact Cities More Affordable?

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Housing affordability has been a tenacious and intractable urban problem for as long as stats have been kept. Several cities recently declared it a crisis. But what kind of problem is it? Opinions vary widely. An economic problem, or a social one? A land resource issue? Or, as traded wisdom would have it, the result of reliance on the wrong urban form? Proposed solutions vary accordingly. Now, new evidence rules out one potential source of unaffordable housing: clearly, it is not an urban form problem. The widely-believed theory that a city's lack of affordable housing can be fixed with increased compactness — when combined with public transit — is apparently wrong.  read more »

Manhattan Ultra-Luxury ‘Battling the Serpent of Chaos’

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The deceleration of China and resulting commodities crash have created a problem for developers of ultra luxury condominiums.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the sky was a solid dome, the belly of the goddess Nut who arched her body from one side of the horizon to the other. Every day, the sun god Ra emerged in the east and sailed in his boat across the sky until dusk when he disappeared in the west by dipping below the surface of Nun, the ocean upon which the whole flat earth floated.  read more »

Millennial Home Ownership: Disappointment Ahead in Some Places?

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Millennial renters overwhelmingly plan on buying their own homes, though affording them could be far more challenging than they think. This is an important conclusion from a renters’ survey by apartmentlist.com, an apartment search website (See: The Affordability Crisis: Are Millennials Destined to be Renters?).  read more »

Liberals — Except When it Comes Home

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My old boss, Bruce Brugmann, who ran the Bay Guardian, told me early on in my career that you could tell the real politics of a big-city newspaper by the person they endorse for mayor.

Nice liberal outfits like the New York Times support Democrats for president and (typically) governor and US Senate. The SF Chronicle doesn’t endorse many Republicans any more. But when it comes to the local stuff, the decisions on who should run the city where they live and operate and connect with the power structure, the truth comes out.  read more »

The Foreclosure Crisis: At the Movies

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If you haven’t seen The Big Short, the movie version of Michael Lewis’s fascinating book about the explosion of the housing bubble, you should see it for the entertainment value alone. The film tells an important story with humor, relative accuracy and strong acting.  It is so good that it has been nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. But the film largely ignores the experiences of the homeowners who signed notes and mortgages that backed the securities and derivatives that the film describes.  A decade later, millions of working-class homeowners are still suffering from results of the greed and recklessness so well documented by the movie.  read more »

Subjects:

Suburban Sustainablity

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There’s a philosophical debate about what is “sustainable.” The two dominant camps tend to advocate on behalf of either the hyper efficient dense city or bucolic rural self sufficiency. Personally, I’m not a fan of either.  read more »

What Price Urban Density?

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We regularly hear the argument that living in a compact city is more affordable than living in one that is more spread out. But what does the data actually show about the cost of housing in compact cities, and the cost of transport in these dense places? The relationship between those two expenses and the compactness of a city could tell us much about which kinds of places are most affordable, since those two costs together dominate household budgets.  read more »

Why Jersey City is the New Brooklyn

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For hundreds of years, New York City has been viewed by Americans and foreigners alike as the default capital of the United States. Though not the official political capital city, New York, New York has been commonly viewed, and certainly among its own residents, as the de facto center for American culture, music, sports, food, and art.

Although far more people migrate out of the New York area than come, it remains a primary destination for those who—in the words of Frank Sinatra—want to be a part of it.  read more »

The Great Vancouver Exodus: Why I’m Almost Ready to Leave the City

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It was one of those Sundays in early January when you wake up to bright, stark sunlight streaming through your blinds.

My fellow Vancouverites might know the one. It’s been grey and dreary for months. You open your curtains to a brave new world and see, with sudden, startling clarity, all of the dust that had gathered in the cracks of your life while you had been hibernating through the long winter.  read more »