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  #1  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 5:41 PM
C. C. is offline
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Your city's grassroots efforts on housing affordability?

There is a growing list of cities where the dreams of homeownership, or even renting a modest apartment, are increasingly becoming unattainable, especially for those individuals and families just starting out. People are increasingly staying with their parents or getting roommates.

I laugh when I hear about complaints that a new condo project that is perceived too have too many one bedroom and bachelor apartments with a desire to instead see more two or three bedrooms for "families". What's happening 90% of the time with these multiple bedroom apartments is that each bedroom will be rented out to a private individual. Even the Realtors/Brokers in New York will shamelessly due this subdivision with individual leases advertising a 1 bedroom in 3 bedroom apartment (That's really a 1 bedroom plus den). I still support this because at least it's better than the alternative: homelessness.

Has your city seen any grassroot efforts from those seeking housing affordability to push the council to do more? I'm particularly interested in hearing from Californians and the YIMBY movement as the issue of housing affordability has hit a feverish pitch.

At some point, people will revolt but right now it looks like it's mostly talk online and no action.
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  #2  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 5:47 PM
jmecklenborg jmecklenborg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C. View Post
There is a growing list of cities where the dreams of homeownership, or even renting a modest apartment, are increasingly becoming unattainable, especially for those individuals and families just starting out. People are increasingly staying with their parents or getting roommates.

The U.S. population has not grown significantly since the 2008-09 recession. Back then, there were vacant houses all over the place. So where was everyone? That's right, living with their families and living with roommates.
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  #3  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 6:03 PM
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yuriandrade yuriandrade is offline
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Quoting from the other thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
How to turn NIMBYs into YIMBYs

Sep 11th 2021

Read More: https://www.economist.com/finance-an...ys-into-yimbys

(...)

- The post-war push in the West to build huge housing projects, meanwhile, ended in failure when money was tight it was always easy to slash maintenance budgets. The bigger question, then, is what needs to happen to boost private housebuilding. Happily, there are precedents. In the decade to 2013, for instance, Tokyo boosted its overall housing stock by over 1m, more than double the increase in the 1980s. Sydney has boosted annual completions by 50% since the early 2000s. Such reforms can quickly have positive effects. A new paper on São Paulo, which enacted zoning reforms in 2016, finds that the policy boosted housing supply by 1.4%, leading to a 0.4-1% reduction in prices. — In normal times homeowners fiercely resist new developments because they worry that property prices will fall. This was less of a concern for Tokyoites after Japan’s property bubble burst in 1992.

- Waiting until a city is at risk of turning into San Francisco is hardly a viable strategy. A more durable one involves recognising that the housing shortage is the result of skewed incentives, and then correcting them. That in turn means focusing on two groups: planners and homeowners. Take planners first. In many countries local governments assume this responsibility. They must deal with the downsides of extra houses the need to provide more school places, for instance. Yet they do not often reap the gains in the form of a bigger tax base, since the majority of taxes in rich countries accrue at the national level. In England, councils that raise extra revenue often see it vanish into the central-government pot. This creates large disincentives to allow housing development. One solution is to take power from local bureaucrats. This was what São Paulo did. Another involves incentivising local authorities to become more development-friendly.

(...)
São Paulo real estate sales reaches the all-time high

New units:
2021 (to July): 34,048
2020: 59,978
2019: 64,124
2018: 36,804
2017: 30,157
2016: 19,157

I would't say legislation was changed eyeing house affordability, but aiming densifying central neighbourhoods and regions along freeways, bus corridors and subway/railway lines.

At a macro level, Brazilian interest rates reached an all-time low in 2020 (2% down from 14% in 2016). That helped to boost sales even with the economic hardship.
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  #4  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 7:33 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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Ho's here are already affordable! (just not the pretty ones)

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  #5  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 8:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post
The U.S. population has not grown significantly since the 2008-09 recession. Back then, there were vacant houses all over the place. So where was everyone? That's right, living with their families and living with roommates.
You're kidding right?

2010 Census - 308,745,538
2020 Census - 331,449,281

That's a need of 22 million new beds to house everyone in a 10 year period. And most of this growth occurred in cities where the jobs are located. Of course this is just raw population change, but the numbers are even higher if you factor in the amount of teenagers who became young adults during this time and are either continuing to live at home as it's the only affordable option or move in with a roommate if they could not afford housing on their own.

Housing affordability has always been an issue, but it's magnitudes worse now than it was 13 years ago during the Great Recession.
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  #6  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 8:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Ho's here are already affordable! (just not the pretty ones)

Honestly, a little more diversity in incomes in some of the not so pretty parts of Chicago to borrow your lexicon would be a good thing. No reason why there should be vacant homes when there is should be such need out there.
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  #7  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 8:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Ho's here are already affordable! (just not the pretty ones)

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  #8  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 8:44 PM
jmecklenborg jmecklenborg is offline
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Quote:
That's a need of 22 million new beds to house everyone in a 10 year period.
No. As a percentage, the U.S. population grew less between 2010 and 2020 than any other decade going back to the 1700s, excepting the 1940s, when immigration was largely shut off.

For example, between 1990 and 2000, the overall U.S. population grew by 33 million - 50% more than 2010 to 2020. Houses were being torn down all over the place. There were still tons of vacant buildings in Manhattan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by C. View Post
Housing affordability has always been an issue, but it's magnitudes worse now than it was 13 years ago during the Great Recession.
Wrong. There were vacant houses all over the place. Vacant houses were being torn down like crazy in the Midwest and Great Lakes region from 1960 until about 2018. I bought a vacant house in 2013 and there were several more empty houses on the same block that took years to sell.

So where did all of these people come from? Why are flippers now fighting over tear-downs in third-rate Midwest cities? In part it's because there are 25% more 30 year-olds now than in 2000, because of the boom echo that saw live births increase from 3 million in the mid-1970s to 4 million in 1990.

But more ominously, the value of the S&P has boomed 10X since 1990. There is simply much, much, much more money in the United States. Many of today's 30 year-olds have inherited money or have been given money by living relatives on a scale that was mathematically impossible back in 1990.

We now have many more households, relative to the overall population. The three-generation households that I remember from my childhood are an endangered species amongst the middle and upper-middle classes.
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  #9  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 9:23 PM
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Yes it's very different. But teardowns were largely a regional thing, not a national thing.
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  #10  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 11:06 PM
CaliNative CaliNative is online now
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Hoses are quite affordable. I paid just $10 for a 25 foot garden hose at Home Depot.

Seriously, why don't they let us edit the topic line? I've made a typo there, and it can't be changed.

In SoCal, the big trend is letting people add small "granny flats" in the back yard, which can be rented out.
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  #11  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 12:50 AM
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In Seattle, there has been a movement to add granny flats as well.

It's a cool idea, though I am not sure that it will move the needle as much as upzoning would.
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  #12  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 1:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliNative View Post
Hoses are quite affordable. I paid just $10 for a 25 foot garden hose at Home Depot.

Seriously, why don't they let us edit the topic line? I've made a typo there, and it can't be changed.

In SoCal, the big trend is letting people add small "granny flats" in the back yard, which can be rented out.
I thought it was a pun... grassroots.... hoses. But now you're throwing cold water on my interpretation.
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  #13  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 3:20 AM
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Originally Posted by SFBruin View Post
In Seattle, there has been a movement to add granny flats as well.

It's a cool idea, though I am not sure that it will move the needle as much as upzoning would.
This legislation passed. Most house lots can now do two accessory units. Two years in, it appears to be roughly doubling the number of units completed, to 220 in the first half of 2021. Not a ton but worth doing.

Actually that's completions, 26 months after passage, so there might be more of a jump in Q3, accommodating finance, design, permits, and construction including Covid slowdowns.

No matter what it'll be a small fraction of completions of course. And yes, no doubt that upzoning would have many, many times the effect.
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  #14  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 5:16 AM
jmecklenborg jmecklenborg is offline
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Most house lots can now do two accessory units. Two years in, it appears to be roughly doubling the number of units completed, to 220 in the first half of 2021. Not a ton but worth doing.
This and the triplex thing in Minneapolis aren't going to make a big difference. The solution is a) hi-rise apartment blocks next to subway stations where rent is b) subsidized for those without a registered personal vehicle.
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  #15  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 5:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post
The solution is a) hi-rise apartment blocks next to subway stations where rent is b) subsidized for those without a registered personal vehicle.
Yeah, that would work.

I'm not sure who is going to pay for the subsidy. Maybe just charge a VMT tax to discourage driving, and use the revenues for safety and quality of life improvements?
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Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 6:03 AM
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Or, just end parking minimums near frequent rail transit.

I'm not really a fan of taxes tbh
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  #17  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 3:57 PM
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OF COURSE no parking minimums in places with decent transit. If a bus comes by every 15 minutes a few blocks away, there should be no parking minimums. Many cities implemented this long ago. It can be a huge savings, and it's essential to the entire micro housing concept, but it's still just a piece of the affordability puzzle.

Subsidies are harder. Many cities subsidize non-profit housing, but the amount of construction is never huge. Seattle does $40 million per year iirc, plus more from development fees (which make other new units more expensive). But that's a drop in the bucket when units cost hundreds of thousands each to develop, even if the subsidy is just covering a percentage.

Property tax abatements are easier, and they exist in many places to encourage housing, particularly at low rents. But property tax is only a piece of a building's costs.

The smallest micros can be a huge help. There should even be options with the bathroom and kitchen down the hall, like college dorms. Many singles and couples would jump at it. This is the only way true affordable housing can be built without subsidy. And they'd get cheaper as they age. Alas, Seattle allowed these once but doesn't anymore...except for student housing. (If it's ok for them, why not for the poor?) Our micros for non-students are generally 280 sf or so, which is the smallest you can do with a full bathroom and a mini kitchen.
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  #18  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 5:06 PM
jmecklenborg jmecklenborg is offline
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
The smallest micros can be a huge help. There should even be options with the bathroom and kitchen down the hall, like college dorms. Many singles and couples would jump at it. This is the only way true affordable housing can be built without subsidy. And they'd get cheaper as they age. Alas, Seattle allowed these once but doesn't anymore...except for student housing. (If it's ok for them, why not for the poor?)
These things used to be in every U.S. city but they were grandfathered out because they (not unlike college dormitories) became hubs for drug use, deviant sexual behavior, etc. I think that the low price was more the problem than the shared bathrooms.
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  #19  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 5:12 PM
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Smaller housing is to blame for that? Even shared bathrooms can be one-person-only.

Seattle's biggest issues with the various super-micro types were (1) the idea that small housing isn't humane (apparently the street or a friend's couch are preferable), and (b) it's not ok to have a bathroom and kitchen share a sink.
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  #20  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2021, 5:39 PM
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Things Toronto has done:

Legalized basement apartments across the board (awhile ago)

Just passed legalization of rooming houses City-wide (were previously legal in some areas only)

Legalized Laneway suites

Created financial incentives for the constructive of affordable housing (waived fees/charges etc.)

Created 'Housing Now' initiative to build purpose-built rental housing, mixed income on City land with developer money. They get the land for free/cheap on, typically, a 99-year lease, in exchange they provide a portion of units as 'affordable' and/or 'deeply affordable'. (roughly housing a middle-income earner rent, and subsidized housing for low-income persons).

The initial rounds of projects are described here:

https://createto.ca/housingnow/projects/

Construction is due to start on the first of these next month.

***

Additionally, Toronto has been building modular housing (Single-Room-Occupancy style) with an eye to getting people out of the conventional shelter system more quickly.

More on that here:

https://www.toronto.ca/community-peo...ng-initiative/

****

For all of that, Toronto's homeless problem has grown substantially in recent years with skyrocketing prices/rents; and with de-institutionalization being a focus for those with mental health needs.

The combination, has seen Toronto's Shelter population more than triple in the last decade and a bit.

****

On a go-forward basis, other than more of the same, Toronto is reviewing parking minimum standards and will likely eliminate them in areas close to transit, and otherwise reduce them.

Good as far as it goes, but more will need to happen to get affordability in check.
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