sneaking suspicion: more housing actually won't solve housing crises in financially overdeveloped places02 Apr 2018
i’ve had a suspicion for a long time that just won’t go away. figured i’d write it up in case i want to share it.
here’s the thing: i don’t actually think more housing is going to solve the global crises in financially overdeveloped places.
my thinking: to imagine that more housing will reduce housing prices and costs is to assume that the market functions. this is similar to jaron lanier’s thinking about ideal versus real computers in the computer science world. programmers and developers love to think about their work in ideal, but very little useful code happens in the ideal. it’s all in the messy space of the real. i would love to see a calculation of how much housing a place would need to stabilize its rent and housing prices.
also, what is the right level for housing prices in a place? there are seriously conflicting views and interests about this. real estate workers land/homeowners always want more/higher. almost everyone else wants lower. so who decides what’s the right level? the market? ha. we see how that’s worked out for everyone except the real estate/owning folks (because they wield disproportionate political and socioeconomic power).
also, more housing assumes that all else is working about our economy. like… jobs. but we actually know that the economy is bifurcating hard. so, going back to my first point, more housing would have to not only stabilize houses costs; it would have to drop it. like… what?!
also, time. no one seems to discuss in these conversations about how long the market correction is going to take. housing construcrtion doesn’t happen overnight. if it did, sure, maybe that would be sufficient. but since it doesn’t, not only does it not provide immediate solutions (though advocates for more housing and even affordable housing talk about their fights like they’re fighting for the moment), the likelihood that the impact more housing will have on situations in the future is actually totally unknown. if the economy is worse for low and middle income people in five years when the housing we’re all fighting for right now is ready, will it matter? will we have new fights to fight?
but, finally, at a root cause level, the market-based thinking that more housing will solve housing doesn’t at all address the issue of land as a commodity. this is western thinking and actually doesn’t work. in my mind, we’ve seen that treating shared resources as commodities doesn’t work. anything that should the commons that is handled via the totally free market seems to fail. best case scenario, the market needs serious intervention. worst case scenario, common goods shouldn’t be commodified at all.
also, what is a market anyways? >_>
anyways, i could keep ranting, but i’ll chill for now. gotta get to work!
ps - idk what the actual solution is, but i thinkthe solution space isn’t through the market as it currently is thought of. we need to shift the way we think about what housing is, who deserves it, and how they should be in relationship to the resources that help (each of us individually and us as a species) secure it.
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