How much do you pay for a place to live—and how much should you? Across the country, housing prices continue to climb while wages essentially have been stagnant since the 1970s. At the same time, the supply of housing isn’t keeping pace with population growth. Zillow has estimated that the current number of homes for sale is about the same as it was in 1994, but the U.S. population has grown by 63 million people since then. Even in places with laws requiring developers to build a certain percentage of affordable housing, “affordability” often applies only to a select few people within a narrow demographic. Most people below the upper middle class are priced out.
Where are the solutions? The last major drive toward public housing in the 1960s had wide-ranging effects that did little to alleviate poverty and, in some places, made it worse. Across the country, innovations in housing—cohousing developments and community land trusts to urban mixed-use communities and rural cooperatives—have shown some promise, but can they scale to address the scope of the problem? There are only 165 cohousing groups across the United States, for example, some having only a few homes and none more than a few dozen. And, no, a million tiny houses won’t fix us.
What solutions can work at scale? How do we approach housing and the related problems of inequality, since housing makes up about two-thirds of a median American family’s wealth? How can we provide enough housing without contributing to overdevelopment and environmental degradation in all stages of use? Can innovative solutions in housing address the profound wealth inequality for racial and ethnic minorities? The stories we are seeking will address these questions and more, such as:
- What is the American Dream home now?
- Should the goal should be homeownership or long-term stable rentals?
- Are people choosing creative forms of “family” as a way of addressing housing needs?
- Is multigenerational living all it’s cracked up to be?
- How are communities of color finding solutions to housing needs that also address other issues facing their communities?
- What kind of advocacy works to hold the line on raising rents, foreclosures, and up-market redevelopment?
- Can cooperative financing, development, and homeownership keep housing affordable?
- Where are millennials finding solutions for first-time homeownership?
- Are rural communities on the rebound as more people abandon prohibitively expensive urban centers?
- Is our concept of “home” changing how we view “work”?
- Does gentrification have to mean displacement?
- How can we ensure that our homes—building and living in them—aren’t contributing to environmental decay?
- How do other countries or cultures manage affordable housing?
- What are we going to do about the suburbs?
Do you have expertise, evidence, or insight into how the housing economy has changed and how it can change for the better? Send us your ideas for a reported feature, deeply researched think piece, or insightful essay to [email protected].