LA rent sucks. It’s way, way too damn high. Let’s fix it.
If you rent, you’re probably already on board. You gotta pay the man on the 1st of the month, every month, and that sucks. But what if you are the man? You’ve got the sweet house, the trophy husband, the picket fence. Even then, you should still be upset. Here’s why this matters, to everybody:
- High housing costs are hamstringing the whole American economy. To the tune of a TRILLION dollars a year. $3,000 for every man, woman, and child.
Short and sweet – the places where the rents are too damn high tend to be places where people are more productive and can make a lot of money (think entertainment in LA, tech in SF, or finance in NYC). But because the cost of living is so high in those places, lots of people choose to move to places where it is cheap instead. If we drove rents down, and people started moving to where the best jobs are, the US economy would grow by $1-2 trillion a year. That’s more money for you, more money for me, and more money for Uncle Sam.
- High rents are trapping us in our cars, breaking up families, and literally driving us into obesity and early death.
Remember those high-paying jobs in our most productive cities? Well some people want them even though they can’t afford to live near them. So they drive, and they drive far. And when more people drive, and the farther we drive, the more cars there are on the road (cars on road = # of people driving x distance they drive). Then we’re all stuck in traffic. Sitting in our damn cars for hours in traffic makes us fat, gives us less time at home (which causes sadness / madness / divorce), and then it kills us from being unhealthy and stressed out.
- Expensive rent makes inequality worse. Way worse. Social, income, racial inequality – you name it, and the housing market probably isn’t helping.
The best places in the country to achieve socioeconomic mobility are dynamic, productive cities with good jobs. Yep, that’s right, those same unaffordable cities. High rents are pushing the poor, especially minorities, away from the spots where they have the best opportunity to reach the middle class. That’s right, high rent is fucking up the American Dream.
- High rent melts the ice caps and makes doves cry. Or baby deer.
People living in dense urban environments do a lot less environmental damage. We drive less, plus tons of other awesome things happen like public transit and not paving over wetlands and forests and Bambi’s party pad.
So what we can we do about it? Build more houses.
In LA, and productive city centers across the country, more people want to live here than there are places to live. Just like with anything else, when there is a shortage, the prices go up. In this case, way up – 11% in just the last year.
Even the boring old Legislative Analyst’s Office knows what’s up. What we need is more – more affordable housing, more middle-income housing, more luxury housing – more of everything.
Let’s upzone our cities and build more houses. And not just a few. A lot. Let’s build a lot more houses.
[Originally published on the blog LA Rent Is Too Damn High]