Shipping Homes Over Water to Create Affordability

According to the New York Times, one can find homes transported by barge from Canada to the San Juan Islands of Washington State. In communities such as Friday Harbor, housing prices are no longer affordable for residents. “The number of people living in poverty in the county has risen about 17 percent since the end of the recession in 2009.”

Tourism and vacation home purchases have introduced new demand for homes thus causing rents to increase. This means that as working-class families have fallen into poverty, they have also faced increasingly unaffordable housing prices. Rent as a portion of take-home pay has likely increased for many. All is not lost though, policy makers can find inovative solutions that keep a community attractive and livable for people at different incomes levels.

The increased demand for housing has pushed the equilibrium price (rent) for working-class homes up. As long as community zoning laws allow for the growth of housing, we should see the supply of homes increase in the long-run to push prices back down to the previously affordable level.

The San Juan Community HomeTrust is helping facilitate the growth in housing. The organization “discovered that the cost of transporting them [homes] across the Haro Strait from Canada and restoring them here was comparable to the cost of building from scratch.”

As traditionally constructed homes and those shipped through the HomeTrust’s program make it to market, Friday Harbor residents will hopefully find that housing costs will fall to a smaller portion of their budget. Adam D’Errico, who manages the paint department at a local hardware store is quoted as stating, “ ‘This program is great in allowing people — the worker bees of the island — to be able to afford a home, to be able to stay.”

I added my analysis. The main story, by Kirk Johnson, and above quotations can be found on The New York Times website at the below link.