CONTINUING SHORTFALL IN SUPPLY
Just as the recent housing downturn was longer and deeper than any other since the Great Depression, the residential construction rebound has been slower. Since reaching bottom in 2011 at just 633,000 new units, additions to the housing stock have grown at an average annual rate of just 10 percent. Despite these steady gains, completions and placements totaled only 1.2 million units last year—the lowest annual production, excluding 2008–2018, going back to 1982.
The sluggish construction recovery is in part a response to persistently weak household growth after the recession. On a three-year trailing basis, the number of net new households dropped below 1.0 million in 2008 and held below that mark for seven straight years, including a low of just 534,000 in 2009. By comparison, even through the three recessions and large demographic shifts that occurred between 1980 and 2007, household growth still averaged 1.3 million annually and only dipped below 1.0 million once.
With the economy finally back on track, household growth picked up to 1.2 million a year in 2016–2018, close to expected levels given the size and age composition of the population. But new construction was still depressed relative to demand, with additions to supply just keeping pace with the number of new households (Figure 1). As a result, the national vacancy rate for both owner-occupied and rental units fell again in 2018, to 4.4 percent, its lowest point since 1994.
A new study finds that more than 60% of personal bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were caused by health-care costs associated with a major illness. That’s a 50% increase in the number of bankruptcies blamed on medical expenses since a similar study in 2001.
In an article published in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, the results of the first-ever national random-sample survey of bankruptcy filers shows that illnesses and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of bankruptcies.
Consumer Affairs, Truman Lewis
In Minneapolis, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,228, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $49,122. The average price of a home in Minneapolis is $250,779.
In Denver, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $1,725, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $68,983.
The average price of a home in Denver is $352,172.
In Boston, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $2,384, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $95,344.
The average price of a home in Boston is $486,752.
In San Francisco, in order to afford the city’s median monthly mortgage payment of $5,052, homeowners must earn a minimum annual income of $202,094.
The average price of a home in San Francisco is $1,032,732.
The economy here is booming, but no one feels especially good about it. When the cost of living is taken into account, billionaire-brimming California ranks as the most poverty-stricken state, with a fifth of the population struggling to get by. Since 2010, migration out of California has surged.
The basic problem is the steady collapse of livability. Across my home state, traffic and transportation is a developing-world nightmare. Child care and education seem impossible for all but the wealthiest. The problems of affordable housing and homelessness have surpassed all superlatives — what was a crisis is now an emergency that feels like a dystopian showcase of American inequality.
America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals, Farhad Manjoo, nytimes
Families and individuals working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to meet minimum standards given the local cost of living. We developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region based on typical expenses. The tool helps individuals, communities, and employers determine a local wage rate that allows residents to meet minimum standards of living.
From the article:
Mr. Kaplow has tried everything he can think of to find workers, placing Craigslist ads, asking other franchisees for referrals, seeking to hire people from Subways that have closed.
From the comments:
I’m 65 and would like to work part-time because I don’t want to fully retire yet. I have applied at a few places that clearly hire older workers, but they want to pay me ten dollars an hour or less. I don’t expect to be paid what I was paid on my last job, but my first job out of college in 1977 paid about ten dollars an hour.
I’ll do volunteer work before accepting ten dollars an hour. Employers are insulting my intelligence and a lifetime of experience by offering such low wages. They are also insulting the young people who, unfortunately, need vast amounts of money to go to college now. My tuition and fees (not including room and board) at a very respectable New Jersey university were $235 a semester from 1973 to 1977. Yes, $235 a semester — thats all. Today, that same university charges about $14,000 for tuition and fees, plus another $12,000 or so for room and board.
The toxic politics are bad enough, but the city also has become unaffordable for the middle class. Partly, that is due to high demand (which is a good problem for a city to have), but it’s also due to self-inflicted wounds, such as a restrictive housing policy that artificially caps supply. Seattle is well on its way to becoming the next Vancouver, British Columbia, with the median housing price having spiked to an eye-watering $820,000, far outside the reach of the middle class. Unless they are able to save for about 14 years to afford a down payment, millennials can forget about homeownership entirely.
For the past four months, California state Sen. Scott Wiener has been on a quest to strip his staunchly left-wing hometown of its power to maintain single-family residential neighborhoods. His Senate Bill 827 would have required California cities to permit midrise-apartment construction—buildings rising up to 45 or 55 feet—around train stations and busy bus stops. It was a radical attempt to subvert local control in the interest of creating more homes and would have opened up neighborhoods in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area to row houses and small apartment buildings. Transit-rich San Francisco, where Wiener, a first-term legislator, previously sat on the board of supervisors, would have been almost entirely rezoned to accommodate a residential scale about half that of a typical Parisian street.
Opposed by virtually every Californian in a position of power, Wiener’s bill failed in a Sacramento committee on Tuesday. This had been widely anticipated; what Wiener and his co-sponsor Nancy Skinner, representing the East Bay, proposed was nothing less than to upend the entire framework for the past century of American racial politics and wealth building.
From a bird’s-eye perspective, though, it’s not clear that things can get much worse. Consider the Bay Area, where the nurse in San Jose flies into work from Idaho and where families living in cars dump their feces into storm drains across the street from the future Chan-Zuckerberg School, a philanthropic endeavor of the Facebook founder and his wife that’s a five-minute drive from the company’s global headquarters. In the past five years, the Bay Area has added 373,000 jobs and built only 58,000 units of housing. California homes cost 2½ times the U.S. average, and higher still in the coastal metros that SB 827 would address. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated in 2015 that the state’s major metro areas between 1980 and 2010 built barely half the number of housing units needed to keep price growth in line with the U.S. average. Hundreds of thousands of low-income households have left the state over the past decade, replaced by high-earning new arrivals. California is basically one enormous gentrifying neighborhood. What does “worse” look like?
Are we in another bubble? I remember 2008. I see a lot of places for rent and for sale that I don’t see a lot of people being able to afford. Maybe I’m not getting it.
Here’s how it looks in Somerville, Massachusetts.
For a century and more, Somerville was a working-class neighborhood bordering Cambridge. The city is still populated with a dense mix of blue-collar workers and recent immigrants, all living in together in red-brick and clapboard three-decker housing. It also provided many affordable, off-campus rooms and apartments to Tufts, Harvard, and MIT students as well as artists, writers, and radicals. Today, it’s dealing with the aftershocks of a boom in biotech and the knowledge economy that’s now rippling out from post-rent-control Cambridge. That bloom of wealth and demand is pushing premium jobs and rocketing rents into neighboring Somerville, a place where suddenly everybody wants to live and a lot of proud residents can no longer afford.
Or not ->
The NCTQ report looked at 124 large school districts around the country, including four in metro Denver: Cherry Creek School District, Denver Public Schools, Douglas County School District and Jeffco Public Schools.
In three of those districts, a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no prior experience cannot even afford to rent a 1-bedroom at the median cost in each area. Only Cherry Creek was considered affordable – but just barely.>