Feb 18, 2020

Every problem is a housing problem

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That's according to New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty. We talk with him about the affordable housing crisis and his new book "Golden Gates."

Homeownership is at a multi-generational low; rents and homelessness rates keep rising around the country; and a person making minimum wage can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S., full-stop. One in four Americans puts half their money toward rent, according to New York Times economics reporter Conor Dougherty. About four million Americans spend three hours per day commuting to and from work.

The affordable housing crisis is a major contributor to this country’s wealth gap, racial inequality and climate change, Dougherty said.

“The real gap in have and have-nots in America has to do with housing wealth. A third of our carbon dioxide emissions are [from] transportation, so unless we start thinking about how people aren’t going to be driving so far to work anymore, we aren’t going to be making a big dent in that problem,” he said.

The affordable housing problem’s many different causes — technology, zoning rules, wage stagnation, gentrification — make it complicated to address.

Dougherty’s new book, “Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America,” digs into the forces that stifle affordable housing development at the local level. He’s on today to help us unpack YIMBYs and NIMBYs, private equity and the “constituency for housing that doesn’t exist yet.”

Later in the show, we’ll hear from one man living in Marketplace’s backyard about how he’s been affected by the Los Angeles policy of “sweeping” homeless encampments. And this week’s “Make Me Smart” question is from a listener whose thinking on homelessness has changed.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for new daily Alexa explainers, and don’t forget subscribe to our newsletter. If you missed it, here’s last week’s issue.

The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer

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