Why Technology Hasn’t Fixed the Housing Crisis

A lot of start-ups have promising ideas, but the fundamental problem of affordability seems beyond their reach.

Comments: 9

  1. @swin4ort Another housing complex collapsed last month in Russia, semi regular event there. Unsurprisingly, housing is more affordable when you don't bother with safety regulations. I don't think its something we want to emulate. Otherwise, could I interest you in a decent sized home selling for 25k in Flint, Michigan?

  2. There are people who--no matter WHAT you do--are going to not care about living properly. They will blame everyone and everything for their own refusal to function. I know, I lived with one. He made a practice of blaming me for the condition of our house--while keeping it that way himself--even though I spent most of our 25 year marriage care-taking, keeping his ducks in a row. Then we split a couple of years ago most of those problems went away for me. Now, I have a house that isn't perfect, but it's sanitary. Most of the financial problems I have are caused, you guessed it, by him not being responsible. He continues his pattern of behavior. I no longer care-take. I was reading The Glass Castle today, the memoir a woman who grew up with her Borderline/Bipolar artist mother and her anti-social PD/narcissist father--though she never uses those terms--and at one point she says of their homelessness, "some people just want to live that way." Her college professor demands to know what she could possibly know of the homeless situation, ashamed, and unwilling to admit that she knows vastly more than her entitled, safe, secure college professor could ever imagine, she backs down. Technology will NEVER solve disordered people. This is where solutions like Housing First comes in. But the reality is, you will always have some proportion of the population that simply does not care about being housed.

  3. @Dejah Trauma begets trauma.

  4. Affordable housing has everything to do with policy; not finding efficiencies with technology. Build more homes, prices will come down. If you reduce the regulations and other impediments to building, developers can enlarge the market they build for. And if private developers can't do it, let corporations (amazon can build apartments for it's workders) and municipalities build housing too. (where is it written that City owned housing had to only be for the poor.) Build more home to satisfy demand.

  5. The problem is minimum wage hasn't kept up with inflation. My mother at 24 bought her first house in a suburb outside of Sacramento in 1977. New built, 1200 sqft on a 6050sqft lot with a fenced in backyard, 2 bdrm, 2 bath and one car garage for 30k. She had 10k from her grandmother's estate, and 5k she and her first husband had saved over the last 3 years of living rent free in a family friend's cabin and they financed the remaining 15k. The minimum wage at this time was $2.15. 40 years later (30 after mom had sold her first house and moved the family to Las Vegas) my sister was once again facing a large rent increase and desperately looking to buy a house but coming up with nothing that met her and her husband's needs and was still affordable. Our mother made a snotty comment about having eyes bigger then our wallets so I pulled up her first house to use as an example. That 40 year old starter home she had bought for 30k in her 20s, with only minimal upgrades, had just sold for 340k. Meanwhile, the minimum wage had only increased $9. For our generation it seems a starter home is a van outside of a YMCA.

  6. Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1879). Still true! And we still haven't embraced the remedy he suggested.

  7. All the way near the bottom the root cause is (almost) mentioned - pay equity. Available units is a secondary, even tertiary problem - useful to address, but it will not drop prices significantly. Where I live (Bellevue, WA) the median income last year was $59k. Rental of a 3 bedroom house is $2700/month, over half of gross income. A new cluster of apartments went up nearby, they are advertising at $4k/month for a 3 bedroom unit. Clearly it takes 2 incomes at the mean level to live here. That model is unsustainable. The solution is to raise the mean wage - a strong minimum wage, union support, strict enforcement of fair labor laws and returning to higher incremental taxes are the answer. It has not been popular until recently, but people are gradually recognizing they have little in common with billionaires, and hardly any of us will ever strike it rich. The irony is that this 'socialist' platform will actually improve the economy by bringing money back into circulation. It will also reduce the boom/bust cycle we have re-entered after some 70 years of relative stability. And keep in mind that this is not 'punishment' for being rich, we are just revoking the punishments for not being rich.

  8. Stagnant wages aren't the reason rents and prices have risen to unaffordable levels. There's a lack of supply, including, as other have pointed out, the expanded supply that improved mass transit would bring. (However, that would be little help to pricey, built-out geographic islands like San Diego, penned in on four sides by the ocean, Camp Pendleton, national forest and an international border). If you raise incomes without increasing supply, sellers and landlords will capture the entire gain because prices and rents will climb. Just look at San Francisco. Which brings point two: We really, really need to do a better *job* of deconcentrating jobs away from heavily impacted cities. It's time to spread the wealth, people. And that's a redistribution plan everyone along the political spectrum can support.