The poor continue struggling to find affordable housing. It seems especially acute in certain areas I’ve read about recently, areas going through drastic economic and racial demographic changes such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Washington DC. It seems to me that an expansion of federally-funded public housing should have had a larger role to play during the present on-going recovery. It certainly helped during the Great Depression, World War II, and postwar periods.
We really shouldn’t be surprised that the poor are struggling in the private rental market. Given the economic depression since 2007, it all adds up. Even before the 2007 crash, the rich were getting richer. Since 1979, the income of the top 1% grew 275% while the income of the bottom 20% grew only 18%.
To say that the wealthiest 1% have recovered the best since 2009 is an understatement. Some 95% of the income gains between 2009 and 2012 went to the richest 1%. Once again, this is just adding to a longer trend. Income inequality is now the highest since 1928, reports Pew Research (visit the link for a crazy gif illustrating this fact).
But to return to housing, the number of low-income renters has risen while the amount of affordable housing has not.
As with the Depression and World War II, the private housing market has not been able to provide. The government should step in to alleviate the trouble. It would create immediate construction jobs and have a lasting payoff by providing quality, modern housing for low-income communities. It should also be spread around, targeting both urban and rural areas. This policy will also spur modernization rather than stagnation in the private sector since it will have to compete with the type of housing that should be made accessible – that is, affordable – to all.
Bonus link: Public housing doesn’t have to be ugly! 30 of the most beautiful public housing projects in the world!