Air Date 6/15/2022
#1496 Home is Where The Hardship Is (Housing Crisis)
[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast in which we shall take a look at the many reasons why we are experiencing a housing crisis in the US. And beyond, but it's mostly down to treating housing as a commodity to be profited from, rather than a basic human need, or if you're feeling radical, a basic human right.
Clips today are from The Daily Show, The Thom Hartmann Program, the Damage Report, the Gravel Institute, The Takeaway, and The Majority Report, with additional members-only clips from Rocky Mountain PBS and Channel Four Documentaries.
The Housing Market - If You Don't Know, Now You Know - The Daily Show - Air Date 12-8-21
[00:00:38] TREVOR NOAH - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: For decades owning a home has been one of the core parts of the American Dream, just below dating Pete Davidson. But right now, actually buying a home is harder than Matt Gaetz watching the new Saved By The Bell.
[00:00:52] REPORTER 1: With the housing market red hot, prospective buyers are trying not to get burned as demand soars, but supply is limited. Home prices rising at their highest rate in 15 years and demand so intense that Redfin reports nearly half of homes are selling within a week of hitting the market.
[00:01:09] REPORTER 2: Prospective homebuyers in astronomical bidding wars, homes vanishing from listings hours after being posted.
[00:01:15] REPORTER 3: You go to an open house, there could 50 cars in a line outside waiting to see that property.
[00:01:21] REPORTER 4: People are so desperate that they'll court favors, uh, get, you know, potential sellers tickets to rare events.
[00:01:29] REPORTER 5: Even houses with notorious histories are selling. This is the 100-year-old Mediterranean-style home in LA where the Charles Manson family murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in 1969, but in today's market, it was snapped up for 1.8 million dollars.
[00:01:49] TREVOR NOAH - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: Okay. Okay. Okay. I know what you're thinking right now. Why on earth would you buy that house? Someone was murdered there. Yeah, exactly. Someone has already been murdered there. What are the odds that'll happen again? I mean, I'd sleep like a baby in that place. But seriously people, the housing market has gotten crazy in America. I mean, some people are buying a house just hours after it's posted online. A house. Hours. Meanwhile, I read reviews for six months before I finally decide which water bottle to buy. Now that I think about it, I should have gotten the blue one. But the question is why has it become so hard to buy a home in America? When it comes to why the housing market has gotten so insane lately, it's kind of a perfect storm of many different factors. You've got not enough homes being built to keep up with the population growth. You've got historically low mortgage rates, so more people can buy houses. And then on top of that, more people are able to work from home. So they're leaving the city for the suburbs where maybe, yes, there's not as much excitement, but you and your spouse have way more space to murder your neighbors. But it turns out there's something else driving up demand for homes and that's who is competing for them more than ever before. Starting with the guys who tend to ruin everything. Wall Street.
[00:03:08] REPORTER 1: With home prices soaring to record highs, there are mounting questions about the billions of dollars big financial firms are pouring into the market and pricing out some would-be buyers.
[00:03:18] REPORTER 2: Blackstone has been on a single family home buying rampage. It began late last year. Going head-to-head with other major Wall Street players.
[00:03:26] REPORTER 3: Large financial firms often backed by private equity, buy up and rent out single family homes. The companies typically use computer algorithms to identify desirable properties so they can bid quickly.
[00:03:38] REPORTER 4: They're very aggressive. Their offers come in all cash. They come in sight unseen, so soon as the house hits the market you got an offer from them. OK. Um, and they're ready to close within a few days.
[00:03:48] REPORTER 5: There's about 25 to 35% of the houses in this neighborhood are owned by Wall Street landlords.
[00:03:54] REPORTER 6: One of them is Invitation Homes, which owns more than 12,000 single family houses in the Atlanta area. And nationwide, more than 81,000. Three other large firms own more than 100,000 homes combined. One of them just announced a 5 billion dollar fund to buy more.
[00:04:12] TREVOR NOAH - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: Okay. Okay. I know what you're thinking right now. Why on earth would we allow Wall Street to mess with the housing market? They caused the housing crisis. Yeah, exactly. They already caused a housing crisis. What are the odds that happens again? Now, I'd sleep like a baby in that place. But yes, Wall Street is now buying up tons of homes all across America, because what better way to fix your image problem than to become the nation's biggest landlord, I guess. And regular people, regular people trying to buy homes, well, they don't have much of a chance going up against Wall Street. I mean Wall Street usually has more money. That's kind of their whole thing. Your only hope is to like, try and distract them by asking how their crypto is doing. Yeah. And then by the time they're done answering, you'll be in escrow. But it turns out there's another group. There's another group that's driving up prices and they're not bankers. Yeah. It's not evil, greedy bankers. In fact, It's your mom.
[00:05:05] REPORTER 1: There is a generational fight that's playing out and partially to blame for more expensive home prices.
[00:05:11] REPORTER 2: You've got 90 million millennials, largest generation in U.S. history, storming the marketplace, and really looking for that, you know, dream of home ownership to start building wealth through owning their own property.
[00:05:22] REPORTER 3: So we have Millennials aging into their home buying years. Baby Boomers, meanwhile, are healthier, they're living longer and they wanna age in place.
[00:05:30] REPORTER 4: They're all competing for the same smaller houses. Baby Boomers are looking to downsize while Millennials and Gen Xers are looking to buy smaller entry-level homes.
[00:05:39] REPORTER 5: So many Baby Boomers are active in the housing market that it's become much more difficult for Millennials to buy a house. In general, Boomers have a lot more money to outbid them.
[00:05:49] TREVOR NOAH - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: That's right. Boomers are dominating the housing market and there's an eight hour Beatles movie on TV. Whew. They livin' their best lives. What's left of them. Because, you know, this sucks for us Millennials. This wasn't the plan. Okay? You Boomers were supposed to get old. Then we would sell all your shit and move you into a nursing home where you get all the jello and geriatric hand jobs that you want. And then we take your house. That was the deal. You guys get to destroy the planet. We get the rec rooms, dammit. So with private equity squeezing them on the one side, and their parents on the other, young people in particular are in a difficult spot when it comes to buying a home and they really only have two choices. Go live in the woods, you know, make a home out of sticks and mud and join book clubs with squirrels, or get really creative.
[00:06:39] REPORTER 1: A new trend hitting the housing market.
[00:06:42] REPORTER 2: Millennials are teaming up with their friends to buy their dream home together. For a lot of these new homeowners doing this is the only way they're able to afford a home.
[00:06:50] REPORTER 3: A growing number of young Americans are abandoning cities and flocking to the suburbs, finding their cheap dream homes in far flung places.
[00:06:58] REPORTER 4: More Millennials are buying fixer-uppers. A big draw for young buyers, fixer-uppers are often cheaper. Sometimes they go for as little as $20,000.
[00:07:08] REPORTER 5: Where are they finding these gyms? Well, leave it to Millennials to do their house shopping on Instagram, on a page called Cheap Old Houses.
[00:07:15] REPORTER 6: Why do you think Millennials are so attracted to cheap old houses?
[00:07:20] UNKNOWN: It's cheap and it's old.
[00:07:23] TREVOR NOAH - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: You know, sometimes reporters ask the dumbest questions. Why do Millennials love crappy old houses that nobody else wants? Cause it's their only option. It's like asking me in grade school: Trevor, why do you love sitting by yourself at lunchtime? What draws you to a life of spending recess with your imaginary friends? I mean, do you know how hard it is to buy houses off Instagram? You gotta slip into the house's DMs. Yo, does the carpet match the drapes? No, for real, I need to know if the carpet matches the drapes. I can't afford to buy new drapes, so I just need to know man, and I got a budget. So that's where we are right now. Thanks to Boomers and Wall Street, owning a home may soon no longer be the American Dream.
How Foreign Companies Are Raising Housing Prices - The Thom Hartmann Program
[00:08:03] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Some countries like Malaysia have made it illegal for foreign buyers to own property in their countries. That deals with the foreign buyer problem, which was a large part of the increase in home prices over the last 20 years.
But the last 10 or 11 years have seen this explosion in these giant Wall Street firms coming in and buying up houses. They gained this massive economy of scale. If they own in the Spring Hill neighborhood in Nashville, these companies own 5% of all the houses. When they buy them, they go in and they put in their own appliances and their own refrigerators and washers. And I mean, they they're spending an average of $25,000 a house when they buy these houses.
And that way they have their own repair service. And it's the same parts for the same stuff for every house. They have their own local rental management company so that they've got a law firm and everything to evict people and deal with renters and problems like that. They've got economies of scale that no individual homeowner can compete with, that Airbnb can't compete with.
So do we ban corporations from owning houses? Or owning more than a certain number of houses? Or owning more than a certain percentage of houses in any given city? You can do that with zoning. Is that the first step? Or on the other hand, do we flip it around and do like what happened in the 1950s, when my dad bought his one and only house, he, he bought it in 1957 and literally died in it. He died in the living room of it. I was sitting next to him in his living room as he died in that house, which was 2006, I mean, years later, right?
He bought that house with a VA loan. He had volunteered for the draft during World War II and went off to Japan. And so he qualified for a Veteran's Administration loan. We were subsidizing middle income, middle class people to buy houses. Do we go back to doing that? Do we start offering incentives to people to buy housing?
I think frankly, regulating the market is a stronger way to do it right now, because by the point my dad made, I remember the 1980s when during the Reagan administration, when mortgage -- Louise and I bought a house in Atlanta during that time in 81 or maybe 82. And we were paying 13%. That was the mortgage rate. And my dad was telling me how the banks were calling him up and saying, Hey, wouldn't you love to roll your loan over because he was paying 1.5% or something like that with this VA loan. And his house was almost completely paid off and they wanted to get him into one of these 13% mortgages.
But right now home mortgages are running two to 3%. So I doubt that we could do much to help middle class people buy homes. What we need to do is deal with the affordability of them, which will cause, if we were to say, okay, giant corporations can't buy housing any longer in the United States. So there's a limit on how much they can buy. Or if city after city starts adopting this, there is no progressive equivalent of ALEC that produces standardized legislation that everybody across the country, that every state can use. But if there were that somebody, or if one city just does it, Seattle or Portland or San Francisco or something just says, we're gonna cap, how many single resident homes owned by other than human beings. We're gonna cap that. If a city were to do that, it would level off housing prices for a while. It would stop the explosion to housing prices, might even cause a slight sag in the housing market for a short time. The housing market will recover as wages go up, but that would be a good thing I would think, because it would mean that housing would start becoming affordable again.
John and Ana React to Bonkers Housing Story - The Damage Report - Air Date 3-12-22
[00:12:05] JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: As soon as we saw this story, we knew that we had to talk about it and we had to get Ana Kasparian's reaction, because we know that housing is out of control. The price has been going up nationwide. We're in a crisis. We talk about this regularly. How bad is it getting though? It's getting so bad that people are fleeing the country.
Year over year home prices in the LA Metro area went up 15.2% in 2021, overall in Southern California at 15.4%. Almost half of America's million dollar cities, where the average price of a home is at least $1 million, are in California. So it's bad everywhere, but it's particularly bad here. The LA Metro area has 57 million-dollar cities, which is insane. If you don't want to buy, if you just want to rent, say in San Diego, a two bedroom, two bathroom rental goes for about $2,400 a month. A house there is like $770,000 in general.
So what has that led to? According to the president of the Real Estate Association of Tijuana, the shortage of housing in California is creating a price surge in Tijuana's housing and apartment market, with rents now ranging from $400 to $2,500 a month there too.
He said, "Unfortunately everything is based on supply and demand. We are seeing that rent prices have gone up by 30% as low- and mid-range housing is now in high demand by Americans coming here." So they say that people are leaving the big cities or maybe California's too expensive, they're leaving there. No, they're supposedly leaving America. Ana, what do you think?
[00:13:36] ANA KASPARIAN: I feel awful for everyone in this story, with one exception: and that's the primary cause of the housing crisis, which we'll get to in a second.
But look, I understand why Californians would move out of California and look for cheaper housing, going to Mexico and inflating the prices for the local community there is not good. I'm not happy about that development. That means that the same issues that we're having within our borders are now spilling over outside of our borders. And so now it's becoming more of an international problem and I hate that.
Look, there are solutions to what we're seeing with the housing crisis as we speak. So there is a shortage of housing. There could be more inventory. Yes, I agree with those who think we should maybe rethink some of our zoning laws and allow for the construction of additional housing units. But that's just one part of the solution here.
The other solution is, foreigners should not be allowed to buy investment property in the United States. So this affects major cities across the country, not just Los Angeles. I'm tired of hearing about various oligarchs or various business interests in places like China parking their money in US real estate, things like commercial real estate, yes, but also in single family homes. We should also ban private equity firms from what they've been doing, certainly during the pandemic where they're taking cheap money from the Federal Reserve and investing it into entire neighborhoods, buying up entire neighborhoods of single family homes, so they can then turn around and corner the market in being the number one slum lords in this country. That kind of stuff needs to be addressed now, immediately.
And I have not seen any action by the Democratic party on this. I haven't even seen any attention paid to this issue by the Democratic party. All they seem to focus on is, we just need to build more housing. No, if we don't have certain policies in place to prevent private equity firms from doing what they've been doing, then we're going to keep building housing that will get snatched up by the very corporate interests that have contributed significantly to this problem.
[00:15:53] JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: Yeah. A hundred percent. It might help a little bit in driving down the price, but it's not addressing the root cause of the problem. And why would it? The people who are doing the buying up, as you say, cornering the market, like literally buying dozens and dozens of homes in an area so they can set the price to whatever they want, they donate to politicians. And if you were to ban people living outside of the US from speculating on housing here, that would be beneficial for people who are trying to rent and trying to buy homes, but it would be bad for the real estate companies that're trying to get the most money possible. Which one do we think the state legislators are gonna listen to, like in Sacramento?
So that is why we need to put pressure on them. And again, it goes back to money and politics. If they have tons of money to buy out politicians and get them to to put forward legislation, regulations that is super friendly to the real estate industry, then that's what we're going to get. And we're going to keep getting screwed over when it comes to renting and buying homes.
[00:16:47] ANA KASPARIAN: And understand it's super friendly policy, not just for the real estate industry, not just for the private equity firms. It's also excellent policy for real estate developers who want government contracts to build what they refer to as affordable housing. Oftentimes it's like mixed-use buildings that have 5% affordable housing included. But they get these government contracts. They get to inflate construction prices, or construction costs to pad their pockets. It's a completely corrupt and disgusting system that we have in place, that for good reason has actually done very little to nothing in responding to the affordable housing crisis that we're dealing with.
[00:17:28] JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: Yeah. And to close, I just want to say, because we continually try to get people to broaden the borders of their compassion as much as possible, this is also screwing over people in Tijuana and other places where people are moving to. They say that those moving down to Tijuana have almost 30% more to spend on a home than the average budget for locals. So then how does that play out for the locals? The price of rent is going to go up. Housing is going to become impossible to actually purchase. That's terrible for them too.
And I understand it might be a little bit more difficult for people to center that concern when it is so difficult to pay their own rent, let alone to imagine someday buying a home. But it's just a reminder that there are huge ripple effects from this. We need to do something about it. And honestly, it's no coincidence that Fox News will talk about something like inflation in general or gas prices. Why aren't they talking about the cost of housing? Because then they would have to advocate for doing something and you can't just drill more houses, I guess. You can build more houses, but they know that people aren't gonna buy that as an actual solution.
So these are very significant economic issues and we need to make sure that we don't lose sight of them, even though basically no politicians are talking about this.
How Socialists Solved The Housing Crisis - The Gravel Institute - Air Date 1-29-21
[00:18:41] ZOHRAN MAMDANI: American housing is in crisis. Right now up to 12 million Americans are behind an average of $5,800 on rent and risk eviction. With eviction moratorium soon to expire, we're facing an unprecedented wave of evictions and foreclosures that will crash straight into millions of struggling families across the country. But the truth is this crisis didn't begin with the pandemic. In fact housing has been in crisis for a very long time. Even before the pandemic in places like New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco, median rents for even one bedroom apartments could approach $2,500 a month or more. About a third of people in Los Angeles spend a majority of their income on housing. In New York city about 20% of all renters pay most of their income to their landlord. And in my district, Astoria, about a quarter of residents have to spend most of their paycheck on rent. And the crisis isn't just in big cities. In 95% of all U.S. counties workers making the minimum don't make enough to afford a one bedroom rental on their own. The Harvard Center for Housing Studies warns of a new normal for housing in the United States, in which nearly half of all rental households spend almost a third of their income on rent. That's why even before the fallout from the coronavirus started to hit more than half a million Americans nationwide were already homeless, millions more on the brink of losing their housing, and countless families struggling every month to make ends meet. At the root of all of this suffering is the fact that, in this country, housing is treated as a commodity, not a right. It's a consumer product, just like clothes or cars that private businesses can sell on the market to make a profit. And if someone isn't able to pay, either because their landlord raised their rent or because they can't work for one reason or another, they're not able to stay in their homes. If they're lucky they can live with friends or family, or maybe in transitional housing for a bit. But for a lot of people, they have nowhere else to go and they end up sleeping on the streets. In December 2019, the number of people sleeping in homeless shelters in New York reached 19,000 people, an all time high. A hundred thousand New York City students are homeless. That's more than 10% of the entire student population. Why do so many people end up homeless? It's not because there aren't enough homes to go around. There are plenty of empty home. No. It's because housing people is not the primary goal of developers or landlords. Their goal, simply put, is to make a profit. And it's much more profitable to build luxury apartments for the rich than decent homes for the poor. This gives us a big shortage of homes for ordinary working people. For every hundred households that are extremely low income, there are only 36 affordable and available homes. As a result, we have plenty of housing for the rich. But poor and working class people don't have nearly enough on the market. So we have people scrounging to make ends meet or sleeping on the streets right below luxury condos and uninhabited apartments. This is a terrible way to organize a housing market. It might be profitable for landlords and developers, but it's not efficient or beneficial for the rest of society. In fact housing doesn't have to be seen as a market at all. In other countries, housing is considered a fundamental right, like education or healthcare. That means the government goes to significant lengths to guarantee everyone has a home. And the market plays a much smaller role in the construction and distribution of housing. So let's hop across the pond and about a hundred years back in time to take a look at just one example of how an alternative housing model got started in beautiful, red Vienna.
At the end of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed leaving behind a number of successor states, including modern day Austria, home to the former Imperial capital of Vienna, the fifth largest city in the world. Despite being the seat of an empire, the chaos of the war and decades of neglect had left the working class of Vienna in desperate circumstances. Inflation was rampant, jobs were scarce, social services were nonexistent, and hundreds of thousands of people were crammed into decaying tenements where overcrowding, disease, and violence were rampant. So it's no surprise that in 1919 at the first elections ever held in Austria where all adult citizens could vote, the Social Democratic Party swept into power at the municipal level on the promise of dramatic social and economic reform. And they delivered. The new government of Vienna implemented a huge range of services, including public healthcare and public childcare. They built high quality hospitals, schools, and recreational facilities. But their crowning achievement was an ambitious program of social housing, what Americans call public housing, that began in 1923 and saw 60,000 new apartments constructed in the first year of its existence, built by the government and financed by taxes on the rich. But these weren't the kinds of apartments you might picture when you think of public housing in the United States, drab high-rises plagued by chronic neglect and under investment. Residents could enjoy leafy courtyards wide open spaces and plenty of natural light. They had shared laundries, state-of-the-art kitchens, food co-ops, bath houses, pharmacies, lecture halls, schools, and swimming pools. These apartments were designed to be both beautiful to look at and beautiful to live in, fostering a sense of shared community among the people who lived there. And the best part was that because the city didn't have to worry about making a profit, just about paying off their maintenance costs, these homes were both much nicer and much cheaper than what workers had previously known. In 1926, the average rent in Viennese social housing was about just 4% of a monthly wage. The first 15 years after Austrian independence saw its capitol transformed from a symbol of urban blight into a beacon of socialist governance. It became known as Red Vienna after the official color of the socialists who had pioneered these changes. And even though Red Vienna fell in 1934 when the country was seized by fascists who did what they could to roll back social housing, that commitment to good cheap housing remained after the Second World War. Today, an astonishing 62% of all city residents live in social housing. With the average monthly rent falling somewhere between $400 and $600 a month, with subsidies for lower income tenants. That is a fraction of what people in America pay. Unlike in the United States where public housing is treated as a worst case way to house the very poor, Vienna's social housing residents are extremely diverse. Everyone except the top fifth of the population is eligible to live in social housing. This means there's broad appeal across many segments of society, which creates the foundation for its political popularity. That is how the majority of people in Vienna enjoy something that's considered almost utopian here in New York. Affordable housing that isn't just cheap, but desirable. Housing that isn't just four walls and a roof, but a real home, with a sense of stability, safety, and community built in. Now, of course, this is only one example of an alternative framework for housing and Vienna has not fully removed housing from the domain of the market. Residents still pay part of their earnings and rent to cover operational costs and a sizable chunk of the population lives in private housing. But it's an actually existing alternative that shows us what a step toward a better world could look like. If we want to end the housing crisis, the solution has to be moving toward the full decommodification of housing. In other words, moving away from the status quo in which most people access housing by purchasing it on the market and toward a future where we guarantee high quality housing to all as a human right. So how can we do it? We can start by making sure people who access housing on the private market have ironclad protections against abuse and exploitation. But to go further, toward the Vienna model, we'll have to go beyond the market. We can establish community land trusts to gradually buy up housing on the private market and convert it to community ownership. We can give tenants a right of first refusal to buy out their landlords when buildings go up for sale, and we can fully commit to a new era of social housing, ending subsidies for luxury housing development and using our wealth to build beautiful high quality social housing projects that offer good homes and strong communities to everyone. We won't decommodify housing over night. But we know what we have to do, and we have history to guide us. And we know how we'll get there, through a movement of the multiracial working class organizing for the better world we know is possible. And we've already begun.
Is the Housing Bubble About to Burst Featuring Prof. Richard Wolff - The Thom Hartmann Program
[00:27:03] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Professor, welcome back to the program. We're seeing a lot of stories about housing bubbles, and concern that a recession is coming and that it might burst a housing bubble. I remember back in the day Will Rogers famously said, "My daddy told me, 'Buy land! They ain't making it no more.'"
Land and housing has been a fairly reliable investment, a major vehicle for the wealth of the middle class, certainly throughout my lifetime. I'm wondering what causes housing bubbles? Are we in a housing bubble? What happens when they burst? Where are we at with regard to all that?
I mean, obviously we saw this disaster in 2008 around housing. Where do you think we're at now?
[00:27:44] PROFESSOR RICHARD WOLFF: Well, I'm afraid it looks rather similar. As many people have noted, that's not unique to me, not by a long shot. Bubble is usually something one is very clearly seeing after it's over. In other words, it is a 20-20 hindsight kind of thing.
You notice that prices went up a long time, very far in a short period of time, and then they collapse, and you look back on it and you say, oh, there was a bubble and oh, it burst. This has happened repeatedly, both on a national level and in regions. The most famous part of the United States for having housing bubbles has been Florida, at least for the last century, for all kinds of special reasons. The prices have gone crazy over the last two or three months. That's very clear. The major reason for that is not the pandemic and it's not the Ukraine war. It's the fact that for 20 years now, 20 years, the threat of a collapse of our economy, of a real depression, has been so severe that the Federal Reserve -- governed whether by a Democrat or a Republican, didn't really matter -- was terrified to do anything other than bring interest rates down to, or even below, zero. And that made money cheap, and that let the borrowers get going to buy the house and the borrowers to get going to make the house, if you are a builder. The end result was a boom.
And now the question is, with the inflation everywhere in the housing industry even more, are we gonna reign that back in? The Federal Reserve says yes. And then the question immediately comes: oh, my goodness, will all the people who have borrowed money to buy a home, be unable to make the payments, and then were exactly where we were in 2007 and eight all over again.
[00:29:46] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Yeah. Now in 2007, 2008, there were liar loans that were legal and you had this whole slicing and dicing into collateralized debt obligations and everything else. I thought a lot of that had been taken care of. Are you concerned about those things, or is this more just that if there's a general downturn, a lot of people are gonna lose their jobs and when they lose their jobs, they won't be able to make their mortgage payments?
[00:30:10] PROFESSOR RICHARD WOLFF: Yeah, because you know, on the one hand there are some restrictions that people point to who want to comfort themselves. But offsetting that are a whole set of new developments that have to be taken into account. During the pandemic, people, because they had to adjust their lives, borrowed using the equity in their homes to borrow and jack up their indebtedness in order to improve their home, add a room, make accommodations for working at home, and all of that. Those people have raised their level of debt and didn't have to be governed by some of those adjustments that were made after 2007 and 8.
And number two, perhaps more important, is that we have eroded the mass purchasing power and incomes of our people. Let's remember, the mass of Americans just went through the pandemic, which cost them all kinds of expenses. Then an economic crash about the same time; now, a devastating inflation that is literally making it impossible for them to continue the level of standard of living they had.
When you put all that together, you are suggesting the possibility of one of those so-called perfect storms, where too many variables come together and make it impossible for the high level of prices.
And remember, we have one more thing to keep in mind: the failure of many people along the way to maintain their homes over the last four years has meant that we've had a very significant shift in the way we own houses in the United States. Many fewer homes are owned by the people who live in them. Many many more. We're talking millions now of homes are owned by investment companies. They look at this the way they look at any other investment. If things go south, if the number of people who can buy in by renting, they're going to dump those houses. And when they do, you're gonna see a new kind of depression of the housing bubble that we didn't even see before, 'cause we hadn't gotten to the point where houses become an investment game for the super rich, rather than, as you put it, a way for the middle class to accumulate at least a little wealth.
[00:32:34] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Yeah. I wrote an op-ed about this about a year ago and I was shocked doing the research into it, how extraordinary -- I mean, in some communities you find as many as half of all the homes that were available were being bought by these giant hedge funds and organizations like BlackRock and whatnot, as I recall. And then they're jacking up rents on top of that and making housing even more unaffordable. How much of a factor in the current price of housing do you think is this, I don't know if you'd call it market manipulation or just the predictable outcome of big investors getting into housing for the first time, I think in American history, at least the way they're doing it now? In Chattanooga, for example, they were talking about some mind boggling percentage of houses owned by a big hedge fund. How is that affecting things?
[00:33:20] PROFESSOR RICHARD WOLFF: I think it's affecting it very significantly. Even if the number was still small, let's say 10%, 8%, 12% something around there, you might think of that as small. But remember, a crash has to only start with a few people bailing. Once you start doing that and the prices start going down, it builds on itself. It means everybody else who was on the edge about selling their home is now prompted to sell it quickly because the prices are coming down. You want to sell before the price of what you are selling, and that becomes the very cataclysm that we then look back on and say that the bubble burst.
I would like to underscore that the same BlackRock and other investment operations buying up housing in the United States are also doing it elsewhere. I did research recently to discover that one of the major owners of homes in Berlin, Germany is the same company that owns homes in Chatanooga, New York, California, and all the rest. Which means these companies are not just comparing housing in the United States with other housing in the United States. They're global. This is a globalization. If they can't make the kind of money they want in this country, they can do it somewhere else. And they will. They're not gonna be bound by some rules of commitment to one society or another. Their business is growing globally and we are now becoming just another place. And we better show up with the right money, the right profit, or else they're going to leave. And the cataclysm that may come from that, of the declining prices leading your regular homeowner to get out of it quickly too, that they're not responsible for that, they don't have to pay for that. They don't calculate that. They will make their decisions. And we all in this country will be left to live with the consequences.
[00:35:23] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: I know in the developed world, at least the part of the developed world that vigorously embraced neoliberalism back in the 1980s, most of these laws have been done away with. But they're so common around the world where countries say housing is something that it's so essential to the general welfare of our people that we're going to heavily regulate it. And foreign investors may not own housing unless they actually live in it and they have the equivalent of a green card, whatever that may be in that country. And corporations may not own housing, except within very, very limited constraints, apartment buildings and things like that. As an economist, is that the sort of thing that you think that would be a good idea here in the United States, to limit housing to families? Or is that the sort of thing that -- I can just hear Steven Moore's voice in my head going, " That's government interference in the free market! Oh my God!"
[00:36:17] PROFESSOR RICHARD WOLFF: Yes, let me make it real clear. I believe in government interference in the free market whenever a rational assessment of the situation indicates that the society as a whole benefits more, and that those are the issues for me. I compare the private profitability of the individual corporation with the social conditions, the craziness of the economics profession, of which I'm a part, to have taught all these years that what is privately profitable by some magic is supposed to automatically be what's best for society. I mean, I understand why they want to sell us that craziness, but we don't have to believe it.
No, I agree that things like housing, food and medical care are things that are fundamental to a decent life and should not be held hostage by people who tell us themselves that profit is their bottom line.
Right to Counsel - The Takeaway - Air Date 5-12-22
[00:37:12] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: In March of 2020 Congress passed the Cares Act, including a federal eviction moratorium. The goal was, of course, to ward off potential evictions as tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs in the midst of a deadly contagious virus. The federal moratorium lapsed just a few months later in July of 2020, but the CDC and Congress then issued a series of extensions. They were policies that were effectively an eviction moratorium, and they helped to protect tenants. Then, in August of 2021, the Supreme Court struck those measures down.
Undoubtedly, those policies truly helped, but even with those protections in place, according to the National Equity Atlas, 17% of US renters were behind on rent by the time federal protections ended. Individual states and cities also issued eviction protections of their own, many of which extended into this year.
New York's for example, ended in mid-January, and in California, some eligible tenants are still protected from eviction through June. But with eviction moratoriums ending and protections for vulnerable tenants withering away, legal advocates and tenant organizers are seeing housing courts filling up again.
[00:38:31] CAROLYN HEADLAM: There is a tsunami of evictions, post moratorium.
[00:38:36] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Carolyn Headlam is an organizer with the Ithaca Tenants Union in upstate New York.
[00:38:42] CAROLYN HEADLAM: 15 new cases last week. There are also 15 new cases next week, which is pretty wild for Ithaca. In the past, we've maybe had a hundred eviction cases a year and things have ramped up. Things have ramped up considerably.
[00:39:00] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Now landlord organizations have disputed claims of a tsunami, but according to data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which tracks evictions in six states and 31 cities, eviction rates had returned to almost pre pandemic levels by March. In New York City, there are stronger protection for tenants facing evictions than in the rest of New York state, but eviction filings have been rising steadily since January.
[00:39:25] LAUREN SPRINGER: When the eviction moratorium were put into place, in response to COVID, there was a sense of safety.
[00:39:32] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Lauren Springer is a tenant rights advocate in New York city with Catholic Migration Services, and a member of the steering committee of the Right to Counsel New York City Coalition.
[00:39:43] LAUREN SPRINGER: There was a sense of people being able to stay in their homes. What's happened since that's lifted is now you have a flood of eviction filings being submitted in court.
[00:39:56] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Now, in New York City, tenants who are facing eviction have what is called a right to counsel. Thanks to legislation that was passed by the city council back in 2017, it guarantees those facing eviction the right to legal representation in housing court. City data showed that the program is effective. 84% of tenants represented by right to counsel Lawyers were able to stay in their homes.
[00:40:19] LAUREN SPRINGER: Eviction is a traumatic experience that basically upends everything in a person's life.
[00:40:27] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Springer says the law protects particularly vulnerable communities.
[00:40:32] LAUREN SPRINGER: There's security, there's safety, all of that. Unfortunately, prior to our getting this law passed, and one of the reasons why we wanted it passed was because we see evictions, the coalition, as a very violent process. It was a process that basically impacted communities of color more, especially women of color and everything else like that.
[00:40:57] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Springer also says that since eviction moratoriums have been lifted, tenants are not always receiving the right to counsel due to the sheer volume of cases, and not enough right to counsel attorneys to go around.
[00:41:08] LAUREN SPRINGER: The court caseloads are actually a function of the fact that they had so many cases, like 200,000 cases, backlogged from the last two or three years with COVID and the eviction moratorium. Then now about 7,000 cases per month are being filed in court. The backlogged cases, plus new case filings that are being moved forward without people having legal representation. What the courts really need to do is slow down the cases, and basically not prioritizing clearing court dockets over effectuating tenants' right to counsel.
[00:41:42] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Meanwhile, the right to counsel does not exist at all in most places. According to the National Coalition For a Civil Right to Counsel, just 3% of tenants facing eviction have legal representation. Compared to 81% of landlords. Carolyn Headlam, the organizer with the Ithaca Tenant Union in upstate New York, is pushing for legislation which would guarantee the right to counsel statewide.
[00:42:04] CAROLYN HEADLAM: This is really important legislation. First and foremost, it affirms that there is a fundamental human right to adequate housing, or in other words, every human being deserves a home. Part of defending that right is having adequate representation in any proceeding that could result in a tenant losing their home. Every tenant is a human being. Every human being deserves a home.
[00:42:36] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Marika, let me play the other side of this for a moment. Let's say there's a landlord who says, "Look. It's been more than two years. I haven't received enough income from this tenant in that time, so if they don't go then this is putting a real burden on my well-being." How do you respond to a landlord who has that kind of concern?
[00:42:55] MARIKA DIAZ: Firstly the landlord lobby themselves recently admitted that landlords in New York City are warehousing 20,000 apartments for which they are not receiving any rental income because they hope to receive greater return on their investments by renting out those apartments later on, when they hope to change the laws so that they can attract higher rents. I think it is misleading when the big corporate landlords use very small landlords as cover to claim that they are in some situation of hardship.
In addition to that, there has also been mortgage relief and protections available. I think the final point I would make is that when a tenant is facing eviction, the consequences that they are facing of a loss of the roof over their head. They're facing the possibility of homelessness and everything that that entails, whether that's impacts on health, education, community and family ties, the ability to keep a job, all of those things. The stakes are very very high. I do not think that it would make sense to be forcing cases very quickly through the court system, as we see happening now, with tenants not having the right to counsel, and that leading to the consequence of many many more people becoming homeless just to satisfy landlord's needs to continually make profits on their investments.
Really that, I think, is the response that needs to be maintained, both by tenants and us as their advocates, but also by elected officials who are in the roles they're in to ensure the greater well-being of our society, which a mass eviction crisis is not going to achieve.
[00:44:58] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Ora, help me to understand. If someone was evicted and did not have counsel, do they have the ability to revisit that eviction and get some level of recompense or compensation?
[00:45:13] ORA PROCHOVNICK: Unfortunately, once an eviction case moves all the way to judgment, I won't say impossible but extremely difficult and unlikely to unravel that at that point, which is why it is so crucial to commence the right to counsel at the earliest opportunity. We have found that the earlier on in the case that the attorney can be involved, the more likely there'll be a success from all perspectives.
The fact this is that our right to counsel officially kicks in at the notice stage, which is prior to the actual court litigation. If the parties could resolve the problem and save the time and expense and severe stress of a court eviction process, that's in everybody's interest to do. In the absence of that right to counsel, if the case actually already proceeds to trial, a judgment for possession is issued, and the Sheriff's eviction is ready to go forward, unless we can find a very strong argument to obtain relief for the tenant based on excusable neglect or improper service, we can't unravel that at that point and that tenant will be displaced.
[00:46:16] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Ora, what are some of the changes that you would like to see, either at the city or state level, to further protect the rights of residents.
[00:46:30] ORA PROCHOVNICK: I can think of many changes I would like to see. At the head of the list is something that would address some of the issues that Marika spoke about, which are duplicated in our environment in San Francisco. We also have a very high speculative vacancy rate. Estimates from studies are that over 40,000 units are intentionally being kept vacant in San Francisco for speculative reasons. If we were to place a tax on those units, not so much to generate income, which would be great to be used for housing homeless, but more to create a disincentive to cause them to be vacant to begin with, that would be excellent.
I think in the long term, a separation of the provision of this essential housing need from the commodification of housing. That the business model does not work, the laws of supply and demand do not work, when entwined with basic human necessities, such as clothing, shelter, and food. The same way that we provide food stamps to make sure that families should not go hungry, we should be providing consistent vouchers to make sure that everybody is easily housed in the marketplace. Long term, that's what I would be looking for.
The right to counsel is essential, but it's a bandaid measure to protect people. It doesn't address the underlying issues to begin with.
[00:47:49] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Marika, I'll just ask you if you want to add on to that. If you had a magic wand, what would be some of the changes you'd want to see?
[00:47:57] MARIKA DIAZ: Well, in the realm of housing, one of the key drivers of a lot of the issues we see, including evictions, including homelessness and displacement, and gentrification, is the fact that we have one of life's essentials—housing—as a commodity that can be bought and sold for profit. The decommodification of housing and our other essential needs, I think, has to be front and center in any conversation about how we address the housing and eviction crisis. Even if we don't go so far as to have that conversation, at the very least we should be having a conversation about why we think eviction is a solution to anything.
In an environment where the consequences of eviction are so grave and devastating, and not just for the individuals who experience it and their families, but also for our society as a whole, we really need to be having a conversation about why do we think that the solution for, say, a failure to pay rent or some other issues in a person's housing is to evict the person as opposed to myriad other solutions that should be on the table and could be up for discussion. Eviction is a very particular response that is violent, and traumatic. Really, we need to get to a place where eviction is no longer on the table as a remedy that landlords can pursue.
Why Dems Have Abandoned Public Housing - The Majority Report - Air Date 4-9-22
[00:49:30] CALLER: Why aren't the Democrats invested in government funded public housing as much as they used to? Because it feels to me that it's a great way to really populate their cities, in blue states, and add more House seats in their blue states, and really take more control in the House. Because I really don't see any way they can take the House back the way things are going. So I'm just curious as to why they don't do that.
[00:49:59] EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: That's not a constituency that... great points, but the Democrats are not wired, in this current iteration of their party, to look out for, and also appeal to, poor people.
[00:50:11] MATT LECH - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: They're appealing to real estate interests more than that.
[00:50:13] EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: And suburban, upper middle class donors. That seems to be the direction that they've decided to go in. We talk about how leadership is just ancient at this point, but they're still living in the era when public housing was a dirty word, and they feel like they can't politically take the hit for advocating for such a position. Because that's, again, not the constituency they're appealing to anymore. The idea that we haven't had federal funding for public housing in decades and decades is a atrocity, and that's a huge problem, so point well taken.
[00:50:50] SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I would also say though, there's two things about your premise that I think is wrong. One is that Democrats do things to increase their political power when they get into office. Forget about actually appropriating money for public housing, they don't do the most basic of stuff that wouldn't cost a dime to enhance their political power, none of that. The PRO Act, even. We know greater union density helps Democrats, whatever it is, voting rights, whatever it is. But then on top of that, I'm not convinced that what you're suggesting would add from a congressional standpoint, because a lot of times you already have majority of Democrats in urban areas.
[00:51:29] EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: They take those populations for granted. That's a huge part of it too.
[00:51:32] SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: But my point being that if you were to increase Democratic leaning constituents within urban areas, you would actually diminish their ability on a congressional level. Now, the one thing I will say is this, I'm quite convinced that the Democrats gonna lose the House in 2022, but in terms of the way that the seats have been drawn, it's probably much more balanced in 2022 than it was in 2010. Because, contingent upon some core cases, because people became so attuned to that, that you had blue states, essentially, do the same redistricting tricks that was being done in red states, at least on a federal level.
[00:52:21] EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: And we should also say that there are Democrats who have advocated for these things. Bernie and AOC tried to include public housing in the Green New Deal part as Build Back Better was being negotiated, so that was around a year ago. Obviously it's not gonna happen, but there is a glimmer of hope of at least some members of our government who understand the necessity of public housing.
Does Vienna Have the World's Best Council Housing_ Swimming Pools, Private TV Channels & More - Channel 4 Documentaries - Air Date 8-8-19
[00:52:51] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: Here in Vienna, two thirds of its citizens live in subsidized social housing. But in the UK, less than 1 in 10 live in a council house. And not only that, the quality and style is simply out of this world.
So is this what you think of when you think of council housing?
This is Alt-Erlaa, a social housing estate on the outskirts of Vienna. It may look like tough brutalist architecture, but actually it's humane, caring design of the highest order.
Oh, wow. Look at that. They've even got an indoor swimming pool as well.
They have nurseries, schools, and tennis courts all conveniently on site. I can't quite believe this.
This is about long-term thinking, allowing people to put down roots, giving them stability. And just imagine if I proposed a high-density council housing estate with loads of swimming pools, indoor and outdoor, clubs, play spaces, I'd be left out of town, because everybody would say you couldn't do that.
With 10,000 residents, Alt-Erlaa has the highest density living in Vienna. But you'd never guess that from the peaceful atmosphere.
[00:54:21] MONICA, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Hi.
[00:54:21] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: Hi, so nice to see you.
Monica pays the equivalent of 600 pounds a month rent for her flat. Back in Harlow, temporary accommodation can give you a quarter of the size for almost the same rent. And with the Viennese having such secure tenancies, there's little temptation to buy. So Monica has no stress of being moved on, which is handy, as her dad, Heinz, lives in the block next door.
How long have you lived here?
[00:54:51] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: 40 years.
[00:54:52] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: 40 years.
[00:54:53] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: 40 years.
[00:54:54] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: Amazing.
[00:54:55] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Yes.
[00:54:56] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: Why is this place so special?
[00:54:59] MONICA, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Because we have everything here. Everything we need.
[00:55:03] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: We have 15 physicians, doctors. We have all the, all the shops.
[00:55:08] MONICA, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Groceries, drug stores
[00:55:09] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Four schools?
[00:55:11] MONICA, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Four schools.
[00:55:12] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: And you have your own TV channel? Is that right?
[00:55:15] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Yes.
[00:55:15] MONICA, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: So if there's any pottery classes tonight, we send it and we inform the people. Okay. Tonight it's pottery class.
[00:55:23] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: That's so cool. It feels to me like it's a, it's an amazing hotel.
[00:55:30] MONICA, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: It is. Yeah.
[00:55:31] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: A five star hotel. The swimming pool is always clean. It's always ready to use. The sauna is always ready to use.
[00:55:39] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: I would live here, in a second, in a heartbeat. In Britain we have a kind of negative stigma around council housing, government housing. Do you have that here?
[00:55:52] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Uh, what is the difference if I own this, this flat, or if I rent this flat? Tell it to me. What is the difference? Why should I buy this flat? Why?
[00:56:04] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: The difference in the UK is that people don't feel stable. They feel like they could get moved on and moved on and moved on by landlords. Do you feel like you have stability here renting?
[00:56:15] MONICA, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: Absolutely.
[00:56:16] HEINZ, ALT-ERLAA RESIDENT: It's the political system. If they disturbed this kind of stability, they wouldn't be the leader of this country anymore. That's the difference.
[00:56:26] GEORGE CLARKE - HOST, CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES: Just like us, Vienna started building social housing a hundred years ago. But unlike the UK, it never stopped. Austria has a higher rate of tax than the UK, but its social care is one of the best in the world.
Short-term rental housing is hurting Ouray residents - Rocky Mountain PBS - Air Date 7-19-21
[00:56:42] ERIN EDDY, OWNER OURAY BREWERY: Most, if not all, of the available long term rent housing has been bought up by people fleeing the cities and coming to our small town, and as a result, we're starting to have workforce shortages in the area. Never, in the 35 years I've been down here, have seen such a drastic reduction in employees or workforce.
I'd been running help wanted ads for the last four months, and had had literally no response. A couple weeks ago, I switched my help wanted ads to housing wanted ads. I just recently had two more employees displaced from their housing. Fortunately, I'm gonna have a place to put those people.
We actually help pay rent. We pay first, last, security deposits, things like that to get our employees into houses. When they lose their housing or are forced to move, it bothers me because I want to have a community where my employees can live in, and with all the vacant homes and short term rentals and things like that, a lot of these people have lost their housing.
[00:57:42] DIANE TODD, OURAY RESIDENT: This is our living room, which is right now being used as a storage space for someone who's moving out. Over here, we have the front room that's the parlor, that also someone is using as a bedroom.
Anything you could find available, a one bedroom studio apartment for $1,000, that I couldn't even fit my daughter and I into. That's when I started becoming really, really concerned. Where was I gonna go? I've worked for Ouray school and Ouray Brewery for 10 years. I have jobs, I just could not find a place for my daughter and I to live. And that is where I am so fortunate that my boss keeps leases in town, on houses that he can keep for his employees.
We do have a fenced in backyard with storage and a huge garage as well. So there is plenty of space for a lot of people, which worries me. How many people can we fit? Started out, there's five of us in the home: two adult women, a teenager, and two children living here, which is lovely. It's kind of like they're watched over, and I don't mind having them here. What I worry about is when Kristen Allen, her son move out, who will I have to live with then? That concerns me being a single mother with a daughter. We make due, huh [inaudible]? Mm-hmm .
[00:59:06] SIIAS CLARKE, OURAY CITY ADMINISTRATOR: I've really seen a continued increase in property values. Also new properties that are being built are being sold much higher than they were in the past, and this problem is getting worse and worse. Right now, as the city administrator I'm renting a house in Ouray, I have to live within the city per the city charter, and that's become very difficult, as I would love to buy a house here, and even have an incentive within my contract to buy a house within town, but it's just not attainable.
The city council voted to allow RV camping on private property within the residential areas. We don't know how many people will take us up on this offer, but we're trying to find creative ways to be able to meet the workforce housing.
[00:59:45] DIANE TODD, OURAY RESIDENT: We can't keep teachers in the area. We can't keep young families, because there's not a place for them to live, an affordable place to live. You have your restaurant workers living in RVs. Do you think that's the kind of community we want to have? No. We want our families living in apartments and homes that they can call their own.
Our restaurant workers are making enough money to afford a reasonable place, we just can't afford these giant VRBO prices. We have to be able to have a place to live. The only way we are gonna get affordable housing is to build it.
[01:00:23] ERIN EDDY, OWNER OURAY BREWERY: I think there's a number of drivers. I'm not a big fan of the VRBO situation in the state. I feel you're operating a commercial business out of your home or running a hotel. You're not paying commercial taxes like I, as a business owner, might have to. To me, that's a great deal of housing in this area that's been absorbed through speculation, and people wanting to have a second home that they might use in 15 years. Small businesses and businesses will do their best to solve it, but sometimes there needs to be a bigger entity taking action.
Final comments on supporting affordable housing through the Build Back Better bill
[01:01:09] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with The Daily Show breaking down various reasons for the housing crunch. Thom Hartmann ruminated on the idea of banning companies from buying up too much housing stock in a given area. The Damage Report looked at the impact of private equity buying up so much housing that people are being pushed across the border in California to Tijuana. The Gravel Institute looked at how socialists in Vienna managed to build a system of social housing that is the envy of the world. Thom Hartmann spoke with professor Richard Wolff about corporations profiting from housing while inflating a bubble, the bursting of which we will all have to deal with. The Takeaway discussed to the right to counsel as a bandaid measure in times of rising evictions. And The Majority Report looked at why Democrats have been dropping the ball on public housing.
That's what everyone heard. But members also heard two short documentary bonus clips, one from Rocky Mountain PBS looking at the impacts of high housing costs on local communities, and Channel 4 Documentaries, which went to Vienna to tour their public housing Shangri-La.
To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at BestoftheLeft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.
And now that you're informed and angry, I'm about to tell you what you can do about it. But first, a little context.
You may recall that last year, what is known as the Build Back Better plan was fractured during negotiations, and the pieces that did eventually pass were stripped of some really essential investments. One of those proposals left on the cutting room floor was a historic targeted investment in affordable and accessible housing.
Now, through the process of budget reconciliation, there's another chance coming for this critical housing investment to become reality with only a majority of Senate votes. But, of course, it will come as no surprise to you, that Senator Joe Manchin is once again standing in the way, this time emphasizing the need to fight inflation by reducing the deficit.
But someone needs to tell Joe that the rising cost of rent is actually a critical driver of inflation. Besides, as you heard, we desperately need affordable housing. Nationally we have a severe deficit and not one single state has enough affordable housing to meet demand. The National Low Income Housing Coalition is urging people to email, tweet at, and call your members of Congress today, to demand that these necessary housing investments stay in any reconciliation package. They've provided a call-in script as well as an advocacy toolkit, and we're linking to both of those in the show notes. But if you want to call directly, the capital switchboard number is 202-224-3121.
And that is going to be it from me today. As always, you can keep the comments coming in at our number: 202-999-3991, or by emailing me to [email protected]
Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken and Brian for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes.
And speaking of joining, don't forget to join our Best of the Left Discord community to discuss the show, the news, other podcasts, interesting articles, anything you have to recommend, because I am perpetually on the lookout for new recommendations. So if you have anything to recommend, just generally "I saw this, I heard this, Jay might be interested, he should check it out," send that to me, tweet that at me, whatever you like. And of course, links to our Discord community where we may be discussing your recommendations are in the show notes.
So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.