Jan 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Trump country's housing crisis

Data: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The rent is too damn high across huge swaths of conservative states, and it's getting worse fast.

Why it matters: The housing crisis gripping coastal cities has now gone national.

The big picture: “The lowest-income people have always had an absurdly high cost of living,” Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a research associate at Harvard's Joint Center on Housing Studies, which produced the report, told Bloomberg.

  • “But the affordability crisis that we’re seeing now is hitting middle-income renters, and it’s hitting them across the country.”
  • Bloomberg notes: An "influx of high-income renters ... are increasingly delaying home ownership either out of choice or necessity, driving up rents by fueling competition for existing units and spurring new construction designed primarily for the upper end of the market."

By the numbers: The top 10 U.S. cities, in terms of their rising share of renters making $30,000 to $45,000 who pay more than 30% of their income on rent:

  1. Nashville
  2. Greenville, S.C.
  3. McAllen, Texas
  4. Boise City, Idaho
  5. Raleigh
  6. Denver
  7. Palm Bay, Fla.
  8. Austin
  9. Omaha
  10. Louisville

Go deeperThe new housing crisis

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The State of the American City: San Francisco

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín on stage with Axios Co-founder Mike Allen. Photo: Chris Constantine for Axios

On Wednesday morning in San Francisco, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations to discuss the future of affordable housing in the Bay Area.

Sen. Scott Wiener, California State Senate

Sen. Scott Wiener focused on the critical need for housing development in the Bay Area, particularly around public transit, and highlighted how affordable housing can work in tandem with climate goals.

  • On the contentiousness of housing politics: "Housing politics, unfortunately, are a little bit like climate and gun safety politics. The people get it. This is not an issue of popular sentiment...But like gun safety and climate, it has not trickled up to elected officials in the way that it needs to. "
  • On focusing development around public transportation: "We don't want to build sprawl and destroy farmland and force people into two-hour commutes to increase carbon emissions and clog the freeways...So it's very, very important from a climate perspective and a housing perspective."
Alice Carr, Head of Community Development Banking, JPMorgan Chase

Head of Community Development Banking at JPMorgan Chase, Alice Carr, discussed the role of the public and private sector in housing development in her View from the Top segment.

  • On the public and private sectors working together to address this challenge: "Low-income housing tax credits are the primary driver for building new affordable units throughout the country. And that's policy-driven. That's a federal commitment to affordable housing."
  • On finding multi-pronged solutions to deeply entrenched problems: "We know that housing tax credits are not going to solve a national affordable housing crisis [alone]. We are behind as a country in providing the number of units we need throughout the country, not just affordable and subsidized housing. So we really need to focus on ways of increasing housing production across the spectrum."
Catherine Bracy, Co-founder and Executive Director, TechEquity Collaborative

Co-founder and Executive Director at TechEquity Collaborative, Catherine Bracy, highlighted the importance of tech workers and employers showing up in conversations around affordable housing and engaging more deeply in the community.

  • On growing a tech economy: "I think growth should lift all boats and that we need to focus on policy solutions that are going to make it possible for a growing tech economy to create opportunity for everybody who lives here, whether they work in the tech industry or not."
  • On tech workers throwing their support behind equitable housing initiatives: "I think most tech workers agree with [increasing affordable housing]."
Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Berkeley, California

Mayor Jesse Arreguín discussed the importance of preventive policies around homelessness, concentrating housing close to where jobs are located, and making sure that housing is more equitably distributed throughout the region.

  • On the need for affordable housing: "[Homelessness] is one of the most visible challenges that we are experiencing, not only in Berkeley but throughout the state of California...I think it really is a symptom of how broken our economic system is that we have people that are finding themselves without housing. We need to build more affordable housing and make sure people stay housed."
  • On making sustainable development plans for the future: "We need to look at how we are going to grow as a region expecting 2.4 million more people to come to the San Francisco Bay region. Where are they going to live? How are they going to commute to work and to home? And that means building housing in areas where there's been active resistance to building housing."

Thank you JPMorgan Chase for sponsoring this event.

The new housing crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rising house prices don't cause lenders to lose money, or economies to implode. But the bottom rung of the housing ladder has now ascended beyond the grasp of millions of Americans, regardless of whether they want to rent or buy.

Why it matters: When house prices fall too much, the rich and powerful lose money. That, in turn, means central banks around the world will swing into action to try to save the economy. When home prices rise too much, on the other hand, there's no such urgency on the part of policymakers.

Homelessness isn't just a big city problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Homelessness is on the rise in many of America's biggest and most expensive cities — but it's a growing problem in rural areas, too.

Why it matters: People experiencing homelessness are often harder to count in rural areas and they have a harder time accessing support programs in small towns with fewer resources.