The crisp autumn air is among us and swirling around our homes and places of work. We are also in an increasingly popular and publicized presidential primary season. As the candidate’s campaign and debate, one of the country’s largest topics has been largely ignored, housing. I know we have a lot of important immediate issues! Extreme conflicts all over the Middle East, immigration, Russia, China, the economy, etc. However, housing is very important for our quality of life of our country and driver of our economy.
We currently are at a lower home ownership rate than we have been in decades. Traditionally housing accounts for around 18% of GDP, currently it accounts for 15%, since the crash.
Politicians have spoken often about income inequality, but somehow have left one of the key indicators and way for upper mobility out of the equation. Housing has been a way for many to produce wealth. However, there is not enough supply of affordable housing for entrants into the housing market.
More than half of renters pay over 30% of their income on housing costs. Affordable housing is vital to a vast array of people all over the country. With the aging population, health care costs rising, and the viability of social security at risk, where will retirees live afford-ably in the coming decades?
The policies and decisions now will affect our countries well being for years to come! Critics may say that our government’s promotion of home ownership caused the crash and situation that we are currently in. It however was not the promotion of individuals being homeowners that caused the crash, it was the deregulation of commercial banks becoming investment banks, the lack of regulation of government sponsored entities, and private sector short term profit philosophy that were the main contributors to the crisis.
What may that look like in policy, it can mean many things, and varies by the area of the country and specific factors? It could mean larger first time home buyer credits, subsidizing or promoting mixed used developments, co-operatives, crowd funding, rezoning, etc.
So I ask that you keep this issue front of mind. That you talk about it with friends and family. That you write or speak with your local elected officials. We are a very intelligent country, so let’s do the right thing proactively, rather than re-actively so that we can build the country of the future that many can own a slice of.
I would love to hear all your wonderful ideas about housing, please share!