• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Arguing about housing

    November 14th, 2019
    housing  [html]
    Somerville, like a lot of popular areas, has a problem that there are many more people who want houses than there are houses. In the scheme of things this is not a bad problem to have; mismatches in the other direction are probably worse. But it's still a major issue that is really hurting our community. I've been getting into a lot of discussions, and here are some ideas I find myself saying a lot:

    • With the level of housing crisis we have right now I'm going to be in favor of basically any proposal that builds more bedrooms. Affordable housing, market rate housing, public housing, tiny houses in people's backyards, all of it helps.

    • We do not have high levels of housing construction right now, we have historically low levels. We were building 7x more even in the 1980s and 30-80x more in the early 20th Century.

    • The housing markets for high-end and low-end housing are coupled, because low-end housing gets renovated into high-end housing. If we built enough new housing for the people that want fancy buildings the "gut old cheap housing and make fancy condos" market would dry up.

    • Even fully banning condo conversion would only slightly reduce the gutting of old cheap housing. They'll still renovate to make fancy units, but they'll rent them out instead.

    • The old cheap housing we have today was once new fancy housing. "Luxury" is just a marketing term that means "new" and granite countertops are a tiny fraction of the cost of building or the land.

    • If we don't build more housing renters will keep having to move away. Multifamily projects like these are what our area desperately needs, and "let's hold off on building and hope things get better" will just let things get worse. We can't maintain the status quo of a diverse and city that works for everyone unless we allow building.

    • When people say they would support construction if only it were affordable housing or targeted at homeless people, I'm skeptical. Look how controversial Cambridge's 100% Affordable Housing Overlay is, or how even projects like housing for formerly homeless people get large amounts of local opposition.

    • Somerville used to be much cheaper. Rents have about doubled in the last ten years, and they were already rising then. I'm lucky enough to have a well paying job and bought a house at a good time, but my friends are getting forced out. I don't want a Somerville that only rich people can afford. We need to build enough housing to bring the rent back down.

    • The alternative to density is sprawl, traffic, long commutes, people getting priced out, and an ever larger share of people's paychecks going to landlords.

    • From a climate change perspective, the best place for people to be is in cities, close to things. If we don't make housing available in cities, near people's jobs, people are forced to live farther out, commuting long distances, and polluting more.

    • If you try to keep things the same by opposing construction, the neighborhood is still going to change. The path we're on, the long term renters get evicted because they can't afford the rising rents and newcomers can. Building more housing lets people stay.

    Comment via: facebook, lesswrong

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    High Costs are not About Scarcity

    I sometimes see a claim in comments here or on social media that the reason American costs are so high is that scarcity makes it hard to be efficient. This can be a statement about government practice: the US government supposedly doesn’t support transit …

    via Pedestrian Observations January 25, 2021

    Valentines

    Today I made valentines. I made fruit valentines. There were orange fruit valentines, and grape fruit valentines, watermelon fruit valentines, and pineapple too. I made them for my classmates and teacher. They had a little jokes or puns on the back. The j…

    via Lily Wise's Blog Posts January 23, 2021

    Fireside Friday, January 22, 2021

    It’s the first week of classes, so fireside this week. Next week, we’ll dive into a short series looking at the question of the ‘universal warrior,’ the idea – too often repeated – that there is either a single consistent experience or personality true to…

    via A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry January 22, 2021

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact