"The rent is too damn high!" Study confirms what we all know causes California's homelessness crisis

Yeah, I certainly have a number of friends and family members who left California (or ended up in places like the Central Valley) and would very much like to come back, but simply will never be able to afford it. And it’s not even about living somewhere “nice” - they can’t afford any (sub/)urban area at all (or, in some cases, they can’t afford to live anywhere in the state, no matter how remote).


On top of that, they fight new housing, and especially affordable new housing, tooth and nail because it dilutes the value of their precious investments. Artificial scarcity for profit.


See that small word I highlighted? That’s what makes your comment effectively off-topic.

I prefer living alone too, although that doesn’t precludemy being hospitable to guests (I love hosting friends and family). But I have the good fortune to be privileged enough to make that choice.

With a couple of exceptions, the only people from my class still living in West L.A. inherited either the parents’ house or enough money to buy one. Everyone else (including me) has been gone for decades.


That completely tracks. I live an hour outside of NYC, and I left because the prices are completely insane for a family house, driven in large part by newcomers. (Nothing against the people who moved there, but for people who’ve been there for generations they might not be able to make it when the prices go up, and they either then leave or become unhoused.) It would be difficult to impossible for me to buy in the neighborhood I (and my mother) grew up in, and that’s in Queens, not somewhere that is highly desirable. Whereas if you were coming to NYC and things weren’t working on, presumably you’ve still got the option of going back to where you were from. The natives have nowhere else to go back to.


Is that true?
I’ve read that there is a glut of vacant housing owned by the uber wealthy, using real estate as cash storage, like they do with art collections.


What makes California weird is that the population, in my lifetime, went from 20 million to 39 million (though has, in the last couple years, finally declined slightly), with the city I live in having similarly doubled. What hasn’t doubled is the housing supply. Meanwhile, in the SF Bay Area, tech companies started offering salaries that were multiples of non-tech income - that are now minimal income requirements to even think about buying a home. Six figures is “low income.”


This article discusses a question I had about that, especially as the population here has declined over the last 3 years. There’s a surprising statistic that California currently has more homes per person - 3,770 units for every 10,000 Californians - than it has had since at least 1991. (That was really surprising to me, anyway.)

You’d think that things would start coming back into balance. But, of course, it’s complicated:


Yeah, that’s somewhat surprising - though I suppose '91 was the point where the housing supply started getting bad, and things are even worse because since then all the home-buyers are people with quarter-million-dollar incomes driving prices up, while more people are living alone as well.

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The percentage of people from marginalized groups is worse than I expected :face_with_symbols_over_mouth::

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No, that’s capitalism. This is what happens when you treat homes like a commodity, or anything like a commodity. You get rampant human rights violations. This is a solvable problem, that people who make money off housing do not want to solve.


We’ve also largely given up on public housing in this country.

Barring other changes in the economy, they will probably climb faster in the medium term. The larger corporate owners will be the only people with the scale to self insure and they will snatch up units that become untenable for smaller owners. With a further concentration in ownership you’ll see prices creep up.

So, funny thing about actual homelessness, it isn’t this secluded respite from crowded places, it tends to be the exact opposite. Your average tent city provides vastly less privacy than even an overcrowded apartment with roomates.

Not really, the crisis ripples in deeply weird ways. I’m in the Cleveland area, one of the cheapest urban property markets in the US. Because prices have spiked so much in New York and Chicago, we’re getting a decent number of remote workers and people buying with the earnings from the homes they are selling in those areas. The newer residents can buy 50% or 100% over asking, do a complete rehab, and rent a unit during that work and still come out ahead. That means people who would previously have returned, can’t. I got lucky and bought before things went really weird, but my sister didn’t get so lucky, because she was a couple years younger. I bought a house and watched the other homes on my street start going for quadruple or pentuple what I paid, and she can’t buy in the area our family has been for the better part of 150 years, despite earning more than me. At the same time, because we have been losing population for so long, our pockets of disinvestment create massive swathes of collapsing buildings that no one can return to, because they are missing windows, walls, and plumbing.

They both play a role, but population growth outstripping housing start for decades is a bigger driver. The vacant play things of the ultra wealthy are a small part of the market, but extra galling. The new people are a small part, but super visible. When the market is tight because of chronic under supply small changes in market conditions create a perfect storm for a feeding frenzy.

Housing units over time are always deeply weird to discuss. We don’t live like we did, 30 - 40 years ago. The community I grew up in shrunk by 20,000 people from its peak. At the same time average house size fell by 1/3 (fewer large Catholic families). Despite a small loss in units, vacancies are comparable. Spread statewide you get other weird effects, like a bunch of depopulated rural communities and overpopulated cities.

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So, there’s likely a more fitting thread for this, but seems apt here, too. I’m in Maine, in what I’m kind of starting to think of as an ex-urb of Portland, and I’m getting these “we’ll buy your house” post cards and calls multiple times a week nowadays. We’re a 45 minute drive from Portland.
Has anyone else read Alyssa Cole’s “When No One is Watching”? Freaky, but not at all unbelievable.
My neighbor sold his home when the market seemed too good to be true, and he’s been living out of his camper ever since. Through 2 winters now. Because he can’t find anyplace affordable to live.
I know it’s anecdotal, but makes me think the “investor class” coming in and buying up housing has a lot to do with the inflated housing costs.


Why build a home for $10K profit when you can build one for $50K profit?

why should a basic human right be subject to enriching an asshole?


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