Tag: Income Inequality

May 8, 2018

If you were only to read one thing…

HuffPost – America’s Housing Crisis Is Spreading To Smaller Cities – Michael Hobbes 5/5

  • “It’s tempting to look at the housing crisis in Boise as just a miniature version of what’s already happened in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest and the Northeastern corridor. But in the last 10 years, the American economy has transformed in ways that are going to make it even harder for smaller cities to respond to growth.”
  • “In 2007, the city of Boise was issuing more than twice as many building permits as it is now. Despite having 125,000 more residents, Boise’s metro area built fewer homes in 2016 than it did in 2004.”
  • “The reason, says Gary Hanes, a retired HUD administrator based in Boise, is that the recession wiped out the city’s construction sector. Between 2008 and 2012, Boise home prices fell by 40%. With homebuilding stalled, thousands of construction workers took other jobs or left for North Dakota or Alaska. By 2012, once all the low-cost and foreclosed homes had been scooped up and the city needed new housing again, there was no one left to build it.”
  • “This isn’t just a Boise problem. Construction workers, even in high-paid jobs and booming cities, are in short supply. Plus, thanks to increasing international demand, prices for timber, steel and concrete are going up nationwide.”
  • “The higher costs of materials, financing and labor, combined with the years-long lag in homebuilding, have made construction unbearably expensive. Fred Cornforth, the CEO of the CDI/Idaho Development and Housing Organization, builds affordable housing in 17 states. He tells me that his last project in Boise cost around $155,000 per apartment ― cheaper than Seattle, where he also develops properties, but not by as much as you’d think.”
  • “This, Cornforth says, is the fundamental challenge of the housing crisis in Boise and everywhere else: The only way make prices fall is to overbuild. You need vacancy rates of 8% or more before rents start to come down. But the backlog is so great, and the costs of building are so high, that it’s impossible even to meet the current demand. Every year, he says, as the backlog grows, the costs go up and the challenge of meeting the need gets worse.”
  • “Ultimately, the housing crisis is not about housing. It is about the inability of American cities to grow.”
  • “’It’s hard to acknowledge change,’ says Mike Kazmierski, the president of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. He’s been watching Reno, another medium-size boomtown, play out the same debates as Boise for over six years now. ‘If you say your city is going to grow, that means you need another fire station, more schools, more staff. Cities don’t have the budgets for that, and asking for it means raising taxes. The pushback is, ‘We don’t want to pay for that growth. Let them pay for it when they get here.’”
  • “This is where Boise starts to look depressingly familiar. In the last few years, as the city’s growth has become more visible, NIMBY groups have taken over the political conversation. Of the 21 speakers at a town hall meeting last month, only two said they welcomed more growth. Signs reading ‘OVERCROWDING IS NOT SUSTAINABLE’ are showing up in front yards. Some local residents, taking a page from the San Francisco playbook, are trying to get their neighborhood classified as a ‘conservation district‘ to block new buildings from going in.”
  • “Some of the complaints have merit ― it’s hard not to be sympathetic to residents asking for sidewalks on their streets or more frequent bus service ― but many are simply pleas for the growth itself to stop. A comment on the Facebook page for Vanishing Boise, one of the local anti-development groups, is emblematic of the argument: ‘Why are they coming in the first place?????’”
  • “As in other cities, this dynamic reveals a fundamental weakness in the American political system: Opposition to growth comes from homeowners and voters, entrenched interests who already have the ear of local politicians. Supporters of growth, the beneficiaries of all the new development, haven’t even moved here yet.”
  • “…most local advocacy groups are making the same argument San Francisco homeowners have made for decades: If we don’t build it, they won’t come.”

Perspective

FactsMaps – US States by Population Growth Rate 1950-2016

WSJ – Daily Shot: OECD – Levels of Income Inequality 5/7

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

FT – Access to energy is an essential step in African development – Nick Butler 5/6

  • “Investment in infrastructure can unlock the continent’s potential but is far too low.”

FT – Fight the Faangs, not China – Rana Foroohar 5/6

  • “The Trump administration must break the power of big tech.”

NYT – Save Barnes & Noble! – David Leonhardt 5/6

WSJ – Xiaomi’s Valuation Isn’t Anywhere Near $100 Billion – Jacky Wong 5/3

WSJ – Tesla’s Numbers Are Even More Dramatic Than Its CEO – Charley Grant 5/5

WSJ – Why It’s Not Crazy to Buy a Mall Giant in the Age of Amazon – Stephen Wilmot 5/6

Real Estate

MarketWatch – With no letup in home prices, the California exodus surges – Andrea Riquier 5/7

  • “Over a million more people moved out of California from 2006 to 2016 than moved in, according to a new report, due mainly to the high cost of housing that hits lower-income people the hardest.”
  • “There are many reasons for the housing crunch, but the lack of new construction may be the most significant. According to the report, from 2008 to 2017, an average of 24.7 new housing permits were filed for every 100 new residents in California. That’s well below the national average of 43.1 permits per 100 people.”
  • “If this trend persists, the researchers argued, analysts forecast the state will be about 3 million homes short by 2025.”
  • “California homeowners spend an average of 21.9% of their income on housing costs, the 49th worst in the nation, while renters spend 32.8%, the 48th worst. The median rent statewide in 2016 was $1,375, which is 40.2% higher than the national average. And the median home price was — wait for it — more than double that of the national average.”
  • “One coping strategy: California residents are more likely to double up. Nearly 14% of renter households had more than one person per bedroom, the highest reading for this category in the nation.”
  • “Coping can also mean leaving.”
  • “The Next 10 and Beacon Economics researchers used Census data to track migration patterns by demographic characteristics. More than 20% of the 1.1 million people who moved in the decade they tracked did so in 2006, at the height of the housing bubble, when prices were, as they write, ‘sky-high’.”
  • “As the housing market imploded and prices came back to earth, migration out of the state slowed. But as prices recovered, ‘out-migration’ has not only picked up steam, it’s accelerated.”
  • “Those migration patterns are shaped by socioeconomics. Most people leaving the state earn less than $30,000 per year, even as those who can afford higher housing costs are still arriving. As the report noted, California was also a net importer of highly skilled professionals from the information, professional and technical services, and arts and entertainment industries. On the other hand, California saw the largest exodus of workers in accommodation, construction, manufacturing and retail trade industries.”

MarketWatch – Americans haven’t been this optimistic about house prices since just before the crash – Quentin Fottrell 5/7

  • “House prices are soaring and, despite warnings from some analysts, most Americans believe they will continue to soar.”
  • “A majority of U.S. adults (64%) continue to believe home prices in their local area will increase over the next year, a survey released Monday by polling firm Gallup concluded. That’s up nine percentage points over the past two years and is the highest percentage since before the housing market crash and Great Recession in the mid-2000s.”

Environment / Science

WP – Hawaii’s silent danger: Volcanic smog, otherwise known as ‘vog’ – Allyson Chiu 5/7

South America

WSJ – Daily Shot: Argentina Central Bank 7-Day Repo Rate 5/4

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