Ghana to construct 10,000 affordable housing units

The government of Ghana has signed an agreement with Solin, a Hungarian private company to construct 10,000 affordable housing units across the country.

According to the Minister for Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Akyea who confirmed the reports, the project came at the right time when the country was facing a 1.7 million housing deficit.

Rapid Housing Technology

The project dubbed Rapid Housing Technology will use polystyrene concrete technology to provide fast and cost effective housing units for Ghanaians. Signing of the agreement between the public and private companies commences construction of the housing units.

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Solin will finance and build the affordable housing under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Part of the project is establishment of a Solin factory. András Szabó, Ambassador of Hungary to Ghana said that once the company is established and the materials to construct the rapid housing technology us produced locally, Solin will be able to construct 2000 housing units annually.

“Establishment of the Solin factory in Ghana will help the government’s One District One Factory initiative that is aimed at providing employment for Ghanaians,” said Atta Akyea.

Solin is partnering with Sino Africa Development Company Limited who will execute the civil works so as to meet the local construction standards and to transfer the technology to the local partners.

Once Solin completes the construction, the government will absorb the housing units which will then be presented to the citizens at flexible and affordable terms. Ghanaians will be able to own the houses at an affordable price through the mortgages that will be created by the government

Moreover, Ghana has established a US $190m mortgage and housing finance with a seed of US $19m every fiscal year for the next 5 years in order to address the country’s housing deficit.

Source: Constructionreviwonline

 

KENYA PROPERTY MARKET 2019 : THE FALL…

Real estate in general is a tricky investment option. People have the wrong belief that since real estate is an asset-backed investment and it has liquidation value, it is risk free. That is completely wrong. Property does provide more security compared to some of the other types of investments but it is not risk free. Its safety is subject to several factors, such as the market risk and specific risk. Market dynamics, macroeconomic developments, trends, demand and supply are some of the factors that determine the performance of a property investment.

Kenya’s real estate sector is increasingly becoming a tricky investment option following the ever-increasing supply against declining demand, in the middle of a challenging macroeconomic environment. For the last three years, all available data point to the same direction. Τhe real estate market has been overestimated and the average investor has been dragged into absurdly high-risk investments in a market that should be at a much lower level.

As per the latest house price index, the market is under pressure. The real estate sector has recorded its slowest quarterly growth in four years, giving weight to recent property market reports that have signaled a slump in demand despite increased supply of new housing units. The sharp recorded dip is linked to uncertainties in approval laws, difficulty in accessing bank loans and a general slowdown in spending power among buyers as well as oversupply.

paint

Fresh Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data, covering the third quarter ended September 2018, shows real estate recorded the slowest growth since the 5.4 per cent registered in the fourth quarter of 2014. According to available data there is an oversupply of commercial offices of 5.3 million square feet, which is expected to grow to 5.7 million square feet in 2019.The retail segment has an oversupply of two million square feet that is expected to increase with the opening of malls, such as Crystal Rivers in Athi River. The residential sector has increased supply in the middle to high-end residential sector, with a decreasing effective demand, hence recording a decline in occupancy rates in 2018.

Cement consumption and production of galvanized sheets used for construction also fell this year, signaling the slowdown in real estate activity. Kenyan banks’ non-performing loan (NPL) ratios are among the most elevated among major economies in Africa, and are likely to be exacerbated by continued contractors and suppliers who owe lenders billions of shillings. Latest Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows the ratio of bad loans to total loan book among Kenyan banks stood at 12.3 percent at the end of October.

market cycle

 

For the real estate sector, NPLs increased by Sh14.4 billion (48%) as a result of slow uptake of developed housing units, and delay in subdivision of land, indicated the CBK report. The real estate market in Kenya has entered the downward part of the market cycle. Kenya’s property market is now in the middle of the hyper supply phase. During this phase, the supply of new construction continues to come in, while demand falls. This causes occupancy rates to fall, and rental growth to slow. Values follow the same trend. Different suppliers of new construction begin to compete heavily for tenants and buyers.

kitchenEventually, market participants recognize the downturn and commitments to new construction should theoretically slow or stop. If they do so soon enough, the market can avoid a severe downturn or even stay in this phase for a while. However, due to the lagged nature of construction, this doesn’t always happen. If new construction continues to come in faster than demand and occupancy drops below its long-term average, then the market falls into the final phase: recession. Kenya has been in this phase for almost two years now. It’s just a matter of time before it enters the next phase which follows hyper supply. That is recession.

In this phase, massive oversupply, together with negative demand growth, causes rents and values to decline, leading to losses. Additionally, the price increases caused by hyper supply often force the central banks to raise interest rates and remove interest caps. This has the positive effect of slowing new construction, but also increases financing costs on existing properties. If interest rates are raised high enough, this can cause potentially painful losses.

ceo

As the bid ask spread in property prices becomes too wide, market liquidity can become low or nonexistent, preventing landlords from cutting their losses easily by selling. Property owners stuck in this situation either need deep pockets to ride out the recession, or forced to make a distress sale leading to catastrophic losses. Since real estate is a large part of the overall economy, the entire economy suffers, which accelerates the real estate recession dynamics. Foreclosures begin to occur, and may even begin to accelerate. At this stage, shrewd investors and funds pick up real estate bargains. The market bottom doesn’t occur until new constructions and completion cease, or demand grows higher than the new supply being added.

Some analysts claim that Recession has already started while others believe that recession is close. However you look at it, real estate sector is highly unpromising in the coming years. In the residential sector, most projections show that performance will remain flat. Commercial office overview for 2019, analysts forecast a decline of the average rental yield to eight per cent as a result of oversupply, with the average occupancy rates expected to decrease by at least 1.5 percentage points.

cable

Further, in retail, returns are expected to stagnate as a result of increased supply. The average expected trend is that occupancy rates are expected to decline leading to reduced yields and values due to oversupply and reduced demand.

The beauty of market cycles is that there are always opportunities for those who understand the market and make rational decisions. During recessions, many opportunities are created for those who want to make a long term investments looking for bargains. They have to take a position which they will capitalize in the medium to long term when the market cycle will enter the recovery and expansion phase.

Real estate, just like any other investment, involves risk as it is based on a risk return trade off. Investors need to seek for professional assistance in order to make the right decisions and understand correctly the market dynamics and the risks involved rather than following rumors which usually lead to irrational and risky choices.

Source: Kioleoglou kosta

 

 

 

£250 million of housing deals will see 25,000 new homes built in England

Almost £250 million of housing deals have been agreed by the Government to deliver 25,000 more homes across England, it has been announced.

The package includes over 10,000 new homes being built on Ministry of Defence land at seven military bases in conjunction with Homes England under the accelerated construction programme.

Some £157 million will be used for housing infrastructure in Cumbria and Devon, building roads and natural green spaces alongside developments while in London, more than 1,500 new homes will be built at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park thanks to a £78 million loan helping to fund the development.

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Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire said that the deals are all part of the department’s drive to make the housing market work for everyone and deliver much needed homes across the country.

‘We delivered 222,000 homes last year which is the highest number in a decade, but we must keep upping our game as we strive to hit our target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

‘By investing in infrastructure, freeing up public sector land and offering targeted loans we are making the housing market work. These deals struck today will help us build almost 25,000 more homes, which is another symbolic step towards our home building targets,’ he pointed out.

Homes England have agreed a partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to develop land being released by the Ministry of Defence and there is the potential for more surplus Army land to be used in the future.

Under the Housing Infrastructure Fund the deal for schemes in Devon and Cumbria will pay for a new motorway link road between south Carlisle and the M6, unlocking up to 10,000 new homes at St Cuthbert’s Garden Village.

In Devon, some £55 million will be spent on road improvements and other infrastructure so that 2,500 homes can be built to the south west of Exeter.

Two new neighbourhoods of 1,500 homes will be built in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park following a £78 million loan from Homes England, part of the Government’s £4.5 billion Home Building Fund, which provides development and infrastructure finance to home builders.

It is anticipated that the first phase of the development will be completed in summer 2021, with work at East Wick and Sweetwater being fully completed by 2028. Work has already begun on phase one of the site, which will include 130 new affordable homes and 105 for private rental, as well as more than 33,000 square feet of business and creative space.

In addition, up to 650 new homes will be built on three sites in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, Hertfordshire, using Modern Methods of Construction which mean properties can go up more quickly.

The scheme, which is receiving £10.6 million of funding from Homes England, is the first to benefit from the government’s £450 million Accelerated Construction Programme. Work is due to start on the first site in Hatfield town centre in June.

Source: Propertywire

CHICAGO: $200 MILLION INVESTMENT IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINALLY COMPLETED

After years of construction, 14 low-income housing properties in the suburbs of Cook County have been rehabilitated through a $200 million investment from The Housing Authority of Cook County. This is the largest affordable housing rehabilitation effort the Cook County suburbs have seen in decades and a celebration was recently held to announce the project’s completion.

In total, 1225 units of affordable housing located in Harvey, Robbins, Chicago Heights, Park Forest, and several north suburban neighborhoods have been updated and specific upgrades have been made to better accommodate seniors, individuals living with disabilities and families, according to a press release from the Housing Authority of Cook County.

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“When we started this whole mission and effort to invest in our communities, I don’t think any of us knew that seven years later we would have rehabilitated 14 public housing communities and invested over $200 million in these communities,” said Richard Monocchio, executive director of the Housing Authority of Cook County. “It is really a testament to everybody’s

hard work and also to great partnerships. Things like this don’t happen, especially nowadays with resources being so tight, without some great partnerships.”

The mission of the Housing Authority of Cook County is to provide adequate and affordable housing, economic opportunity, and a suitable living environment free from discrimination throughout suburban Cook County, according to its website.

Some of the partners that were involved in the massive renovation effort were the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Bank of America, US Bank, Citibank, BMO Harris Bank, Enterprise Community Partners and the National Equity Fund. By combining public and private partnerships and utilizing the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, the Housing Authority of Cook County was able to access funds that were not previously available to them and use them to complete this massive project, according to a press release from the Housing Authority of Cook County.

“I am pleased to be here to support the Housing Authority of Cook County and the work they do on behalf of all our residents,” said Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president.

“Projects associated with this investment will have meaningful and significant impacts on suburban communities by providing low-income families with affordable housing for decades to come.”

The recent event celebrating the completion of the rehabilitation project was held at Richard Flowers Homes in Robbins where $19.8 million was invested in interior and exterior improvements as well as creating nine handicap accessible units on the ground floor and converting two units into visual/hearing impaired units.

Overall, $74.4 million was invested in renovating affordable housing facilities in Chicago’s South Suburbs. In addition to the Richard Flowers Homes, renovations were done at Juniper Tower in Park Forest, Golden Towers in Chicago Heights, and Turlington West Apartments in Harvey.

“The Housing Authority has reinvented its affordable housing portfolio throughout Cook County and this has led to the preservation of more than 1200 units,” said Preckwinkle.

Source: http://thechicagocitizen.com

Singapore is helping to build a city in China for up to 500,000 people

Singapore was China’s largest foreign investor in 2018 — and it was for the sixth consecutive year, according to the city state’s trade ministry.

One major investment boost came from the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, a sprawling project that will convert farmlands into a sustainable urban development expected to eventually be home to half a million people.

The project is a 50-50 joint venture between Singapore-government backed, Ascendas-Singbridge and China’s Guangzhou Development District Administrative Committee.

CNBC visited the site which began construction about five years ago and is now has a number of half-built high-rise buildings against a silhouette of cranes. It’s located some 45 minutes by car from the Guangzhou, the third largest city in China, which recently connected its massive rail network to Knowledge City’s new trains.

The first phase of the knowledge city has just been launched. It was built for about 80,000 people living and working across slightly more than two square miles, and in this phase alone, there will be18 schools.

When completed, Knowledge City could eventually cover an area that’s nearly 50 square miles — almost the size of Pittsburgh city in Pennsylvania.

It’s now relocating farmers to high-rise buildings within the area and encouraging new companies to hire and retrain them.

By converting farmlands into a modern city, the governments hope to both create an economic hub for commerce and research while also creating a model that could eventually be applied to rural areas elsewhere in China and beyond, said Nee Pai Chee, vice president Singbridge International.

“Small is beauty,” Nee told CNBC at the Knowledge City visitor center. At a micro-level, Singapore does have its experience of how to manage, maybe, a mid-size or small-size city, so I think we can offer some of our experience to China.”

The project hopes to attract some of Singapore’s tech talent who are eager to tap into a bigger market.

Knowledge City is adding incentives such as subsidies and free office space to attract companies from Singapore and beyond, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies that meet its criteria. The developers are also offering to pay for things like public listing applications and are providing IPO coaching and legal assistance.

But how can this once-rural area and still mostly-vacant city, appeal to young tech talent who tend to flock to skyscraper hubs like Singapore, Hong Kong, Shenzhen or Guangzhou?

Nee said he often tells young talents coming to the southern part of China or The Bay Area that they will be “well looked after by us,” as well as Enterprise Singapore — a government-backed agency that hopes to grow Singaporean companies both at home and abroad.

Singapore has a long history of collaboration with China. The Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994 and Tianjin Eco-City in 2008 are both still running.

Source: CNBC

Affordable Housing: housing gap reaches $740 billion globally

A global property consultancy firm, Knight Frank, has released its inaugural Urban Futures report, which revealed that the affordable housing gap reached some $740 billion globally in 2018 with Amsterdam, Auckland and Hong Kong amongst the least affordable places to buy a home.

According to the newly published Urban Futures report 2019, the affordable housing gap – as measured by the difference between house prices and income – increases due to limitations on supply, historical restrictions and a growing urban population.

Urbanisation is the key trend leading to stretched affordability. Job prospects and increased wages are the major draw to global cities. The UN estimated that in 2017, over half of the world’s population lived in urban areas, up from 42 per cent 30 years ago. This trend is set to continue with the proportion expected to rise to over two-thirds by 2050.

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Other factors influencing housing affordability around the world include:

ONE: Housing as a commodity: Since the financial crisis, housing has shifted to become a complex investment vehicle attracting huge sums from funds and corporations.
TWO: Politics: The need to create more affordable housing is matched by governments’ desire to raise revenues
THREE: Supply: Land supply issues resulting from regulatory constraints

Knight frank, global head of residential, Andrew Hay said: “This growing pressure on housing affordability is changing the development landscape – influencing the types of product on offer as well as the locations developers are focusing on and even the organisations becoming involved in the development process.”

The Knight Frank report, which measures the difference between house prices and income, also shows that there is a growing global disparity between house prices and income. Across the 32 cities covered, there was an average five-year real house price growth of 24per cent, while average real income grew by only 8per cent over the same period. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto and Vancouver are also highly priced.

The most affordable cities are Dubai, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Lisbon, Manila, Rome and Sao Paulo.

Similarly, Some cities bucked the trend; New York saw its income growth exceed real house price growth by 3 per cent. Moscow, Singapore, Mumbai and Paris also saw their average real income over the last five years grow faster than real house prices.

Moscow saw the largest difference where real income growth outpaced real house price growth by 22per cent whereas Amsterdam, Vancouver and Auckland saw real house price growth outstrip real income growth by 59per cent, 46per cent and 32per cent.

The report says that affordability in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur remains a key issue, despite the cities falling into the ‘most affordable’ group as developers are reducing the size of new residential units to maintain maximum capital value at accessible levels

It explains what factors are influencing affordability and these include land supply, regulation and the political expectation that there is a need for more affordable homes to be built.

It also points out that housing is now seen as a commodity as since the financial crisis, housing has shifted to become a complex investment vehicle attracting huge sums from funds and corporations.

As part of the report, Knight Frank has launched its global affordability monitor, which analyses affordability across 32 cities. It takes into consideration three key measures of house price to income ratio, rent as a proportion of income and real house price growth compared to real income growth.

The research shows that there is growing global disparity between house prices and income. Across the 32 cities covered, over the past five years, average real house price growth outpaced average real income growth by 16per cent.

“The growing pressure on housing affordability is changing the development landscape. It is influencing the types of product on offer, the locations developers are focusing on and even the organisations becoming involved in the development process,” Bailey explained.

Affordable Housing: Oxford named as least affordable city to buy a house in the UK

Londonderry and Stirling are the UK’s most affordable cities in terms of house prices with Oxford being the least, according to new research.

Overall, house prices in cities have outpaced earnings growth by 11%, causing home affordability to reach on average, its lowest level since 2007, when the ratio of house prices to earnings stood at 7.5.

The average house price within UK cities has risen from £180,548 in 2013 to its highest ever level of £248,233 in 2018, the research from Lloyds Bank also shows. In comparison, average city annual earnings over the same period have risen by just 11% to £34,366.

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Oxford has an average house price of £460,184, some 12.6 times average annual earnings in the city of £36,430, making it the UK’s least affordable city.

There are seven cities with average house prices above 10 times the average annual earnings. These are Chichester at 11.5, Winchester 11.3, Truro 11.1, and Greater London, Bath and Cambridge, all at 10.3.

However, the London average figure disguises considerable variations across the capital with central boroughs significantly less affordable than the Greater London average.

Stirling in Scotland and Londonderry and Northern Ireland are the most affordable cities, with an average house price to earnings ratio of 4.4. Stirling is in the top spot for the sixth consecutive year.

House price growth has been the highest in Winchester over the past decade, up 93% from £281,224 in 2008 to £541,891 in 2018, compared to the UK cities average of 35%. Chichester is second with a rise of 76% followed by Greater London up 69%, Cambridge up 66%, St Albans up 64% and Oxford up 59%.

Over the past five years, Chichester has recorded the highest house price growth with a rise of 62% from £277,654 in 2013 to £450,023 in 2018. Cambridge has the second highest increase in average house price at 61%, followed by Newcastle upon Tyne up 56%, Ely up 54% and Lichfield up 52%.

‘Buying a home in UK cities remains challenging, as average house prices are outpacing wage growth. However the market has seen the number of first time buyers at a high and home owners are still attracted to cities across the UK, in spite of rising costs,’ said Andrew Mason, mortgage products director at Lloyds Bank.

‘Over the past five years, more than half of northern cities have made the UK top 10 in house price growth, whereas over a longer period, southern cities dominate,’ he added.

 

Labor’s affordable housing policy criticised

Labor’s policy to pay developers for building affordable rental homes has been criticised for being “awful value”.

Two of Australia’s top think tanks have slammed the “building on the National Rental Affordability Scheme” policy released in December that would give owners or managers of new homes $8500 a year for 15 years to rent their properties out for 20 per cent below market rates.

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It aims to build about 250,000 new homes and will cost about $6.6 billion over a decade, but the Grattan Institute’s John Daley said it would be “pretty awful value if it is anything like the last one”.

The plan revamps a previous policy launched by the Rudd government in 2008 when only 31,000 dwellings were built and subsidies of $11,048 a year paid.

Mr Daley told The Australian the subsidy was higher than the typical rent reduction for tenants, and landlords kept the difference.

He said the flat rate per dwelling also created an incentive to build smaller homes in cheaper locations, suggesting many of those built were apartments and studios that were unsuitable for those the scheme was trying to help, such as single mothers.

In a column for The Australian, Housing Minister Paul Fletcher suggested the proposed subsidy would be about double what typical renters would save under the scheme.

“Where is the sense in spending a dollar of public money to generate 56c in rent relief for low-income tenants?” he wrote.

Centre for Independent Studies research director Simon Cowen agreed a revamped scheme would be a waste of money and pointed out Commonwealth Rent Assistance already provided direct cash to support renters.

Mr Cowen believes housing should be dealt with by state governments, and it was up to them to address supply issues in places like Melbourne and Sydney.

“The first version of this scheme didn’t generate nearly as many houses as hoped — that is because these schemes don’t ­address the real issues blocking supply: state government taxes and charges and local government planning laws,” he said.

However, Labor’s spokesman for housing, Senator Doug Cameron, said many were opposed to ending the subsidy including the Housing Industry Association, Urban Development Institute of Australia, and National Shelter.

“Nearly two-thirds of the dwellings Labor built under NRAS were two or more bedrooms,” Senator Cameron said.

Last year a report revealed Australia was facing a massive housing shortfall unless governments ramped up affordable home building.

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) warned the country would need an estimated 727,300 additional social housing dwellings in the next two decades — with the current shortfall sitting at 433,000 homes.

Report co-author Dr Laurence Troy, from UNSW Sydney, found the number of public housing units built by Australian governments had shrunk significantly from the 8000 to 14,000 new public housing units a year that were being built 40 years ago.

“Australian governments have been recently funding only around 3000 new social housing units per year,” he said. “We estimate that output of about 15,000 is needed just to stop the existing shortfall from getting even bigger. To fix the current problem as well, over a 20-year period, calls for a tenfold increase.”

 

Kenya: Housing cooperatives,key to affordable homes dream

The housing situation in Kenya is deplorable. Only 16 per cent of Kenyan households in urban areas own the houses they live in, while the majority at 84 per cent rent. About 61 per cent of the urban dwellers live in slums.

Such are the statistics that have necessitated the intervention of the national government, which plans to deliver 500,000 decent and affordable housing by 2022.This will be done through the Public Private Partnership model.Conventionally, Kenyans have owned housing through mortgage financing, building their houses incrementally as funds allow and through housing unions and co-operatives.

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Kenya’s cooperative movement is ranked seventh worldwide, and first in Africa. It contributes 90 per cent of the housing stock delivery in Kenya.With over 23,000 registered housing co-operatives and more than Sh700 billion in savings, and an asset base in excess of Sh800 billion by the end of 2017, housing cooperatives are in a good position to help the government achieve its Agenda Four on housing.

Housing cooperatives have taken up the mantle in providing affordable housing for low income groups. Those who earn between Sh15,000 and Sh49,000 per month constitute 71.82 per cent of the formally employed.While Agenda Four on affordable housing envisages that cooperatives should contribute significantly towards housing stock delivery by 2022, it also calls for an integrated approach within the cooperative sector.

I am happy to recognise the effort of the office of the commissioner in coordinating a common strategy that will see cooperatives demonstrate their viable model in development.

Housing cooperatives have big chunks of land and savings by their members. They can support the agenda through unlocking their expansive land through partnerships with the government and other investors, providing financing, buying the houses under the programme through mortgage model and Tenant Purchase Schemes, aggregating demands from their members for uptake of the affordable housing and lobbying at the local level for pro-affordable housing policies and initiatives.

Source: The writer, Francis Kamande, is the chairman of the National Cooperative Housing Union (Nachu).

How Affordable Housing Improves the American Economy

Housing is a big part of America’s story of innovation, productivity, and economic growth. For much of the industrial 20th century, housing helped to drive the economy by stimulating demand. Building more housing—especially in the suburbs—stoked the demand for more cars, washing machines, and other durable goods from America’s factories, creating good jobs for American workers and setting in motion a virtuous circle of economic growth.

But housing plays a very different role in today’s knowledge economy, where innovation and growth stimulate the clustering of knowledge, talent, and ideas. As a growing chorus of economists point out, the problem today is that we do not have enough housing—especially affordable housing—in the expensive and productive locations that drive the economy. The economic consequences often mean unskilled workers are unable to access good jobs in these cities, which costs the economy a huge amount in lost productivity.

A new study by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution documents the dimensions of the housing-productivity nexus today and outlines a variety of possible solutions for all three levels of government, informed by innovative initiatives forged in places within and outside of the United States.

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The chart below details the scope of the problem. For much of the 20th century, economic outcomes were converging across the United States. But that began to change by the 1970s, with the decline in manufacturing and the onset of the knowledge economy, as the economies of U.S. regions began to diverge.

The big problem today is not just economic inequality, but growing geographic inequality. The study arrays some startling statistics on the scope of this geographic divide.

  • Nearly 60 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 in Boston have graduated from college, compared to less than 20 percent in Lakeland, Florida.
  • The obesity rate is nearly 40 percent in West Virginia versus 22.6 percent in Colorado.
  • There’s a life expectancy gap of ten years between residents of Gadsden, Alabama (72.9 years of age) and those in San Jose, California (82.7 years of age).

A big part of the problem the study argues, stems from incredible differences in housing costs, which reflect underlying differences in productivity and lock many less-advantaged people out of these gains. In the most productive parts of the United States, like the San Francisco Bay Area and the New York-Boston-Washington corridor, housing prices have risen far faster than in the rest of the country. And the chart below shows housing costs have risen far faster than the costs of construction, meaning much of the surplus being generated, especially in expensive cities, has been channeled directly into the rising cost of land.

These implications are all too clear in the next chart that shows the fraction of homes in various metros that exceeds the standard affordability threshold of 30 percent of income. (The chart focuses on affordability as it pertains to working- and middle-class families; it does not include those below the poverty line). San Francisco, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Miami all have a disproportionate share of cost-burdened households by this measure.

How should governments deal with the nexus of housing and productivity, one that limits economic opportunity for less-skilled workers and holds back economic growth across the board?

The study puts land-use restrictions, which limit the supply of housing in innovation centers, on the front burner. But it also argues that solving the problem requires developing new strategies to address housing affordability for blue-collar workers and disadvantaged groups.

The study looks for inspiration from innovative efforts in several cities across the world:

Tokyo has liberalized housing regulation significantly to develop more housing. It permitted much new housing at greater densities and heights, enabling it to alleviate a once-massive housing problem. It also has an extensive subway and transit system that allows residents to commute efficiently from significant distances.

Montreal has focused on the development of low- and mid-rise apartments, instead of tall skyscrapers or single-detached homes. It’s far more affordable than Toronto or Vancouver, cities that rank among the most expensive in the world. In fact, more than three-quarters of the city’s residences are apartments in duplexes, row houses, semi-detached houses, or other buildings with fewer than five stories, more than double the 35 percent figure for Canada as a whole. The housing was often designed to be produced inexpensively. By investing moderate amounts to build mid-level housing, rather than a few expensive skyscrapers, the city has solved the “missing middle” problem, creating family-sized housing at affordable costs.

Vienna has redefined public housing in ways that work for it. Nearly 60 percent of the city’s residents—including middle-class residents, not just those who are low-income—live in houses that are owned, built, or managed by the government. In addition, their rents are tied to both income and maintenance, which helps ensure that the properties are kept in good shape. While public housing is thoroughly debated in America, Vienna produces more housing per resident than other similarly sized European cities and has one of the lowest house price-to-income ratios in Europe.

Increasing housing supply is just one part of dealing with America’s housing crisis and the economic problems along with it. This is a political as well as an economic imperative, as the study points out. Pressure is mounting on political leaders in superstar cities to address housing affordability through initiatives like expanded rent control or inclusionary zoning, which mandate that developers construct some proportion of affordable housing units in return for greater densities. The study suggests the more efficacious route is to combine housing vouchers—which give less-advantaged residents income supplements to purchase more housing—with efforts to increase housing supply.

“Demand-side policies are strong complements to an easing of land-use restrictions,” the authors write. “Promoting demand-side subsidies alongside movements to allow market-rate construction is not just sound politics—it is sound economics. These affordability programs will provide better bang for the buck when housing supply is less restricted.”

Ultimately, the study makes the critically important point that there is no magic bullet solution to America’s housing-inflected economic woes. Policies to increase supply by developers and demand by less-advantaged residents need to be seen as complementary strategies to be implemented together.

Source: citylab.com

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