The Tragic Economics of Urban Housing
Andrew Granato

This and your more recent article got me thinking about this topic. I‘m torn between both sides:

On one hand, I personally can benefit greatly from lower prices. I commute 4 hours to work (round trip) 3x a week because I’m not willing to pay SF rent prices. I can’t realistically own property anytime soon. My job choices are restricted to where I’m willing to commute to.

On the other hand, if house prices in the bay area drop significantly, my elderly parents who are very dependent on their home equity as their safety net in the case of emergencies, will suffer greatly. Many of my neighbors who bought homes here 20–30 years ago but don’t have high incomes and didn’t make money in the dot com era would be exposed to far more risk as well.

It seems to me that everyone picks a side first and then looks for supporting arguments afterwards. NIMBYs want to preserve their lifestyle, but don’t consider the needs of people who are trying to get started here or what’s best for the local economy in the long run. Pro builders want lower prices, but don’t consider the impact on existing homeowners or risks to the environment. And nobody ever talks about hard numbers (# of new units that should be built, target home prices and growth rate, ratios of commercial property to residential property within walking distance, specific enhancements to public transit, etc).

I actually made a list of questions that I’d love answered before I start thinking of solutions to the housing problems. Would love for you to take a stab at some of them:

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