2019: The Year Of Housing In Abundance?

single unit house in portland
2442 NE 8 - Irvington HD - Portland Oregon photo by Ipoellet is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Single family dwellings like this one comprise 60% of Portland's housing stock. No wonder people see lot-sharing accessory dwelling units as a potential solution to the affordable housing crisis.

Groan. Mutter. Snarl. Pardon us while we work up a mad-on at the headline of an article from Sightline: “2019: THE YEAR ABUNDANT HOUSING TURNED THE CORNER”

Surely Sightline means: 2019, THE YEAR THAT THE QUEST FOR ABUNDANT HOUSING TURNED A CORNER? If the housing is already abundant, why does it need to turn a corner?

Now that we have that off our chest, what about the article itself?

Brilliant! Jam-packed with useful, upbeat information about what we can look forward to in 2020, a brave new year in the quest for Affordable Housing.

But . . . two little niggles before you dive into the article.

One: unlike the housing industry and its fellow-travelling YIMBY activists, who believe that abundant housing is inevitably affordable housing, we’re not convinced. To encourage doubters like ourselves, we recommend this United Kingdom report, which questions the countrywide belief in the UK that it does not have enough housing. The argument, backed up with stats: it’s already perfectly abundant. Just not affordable. Check out the executive summary or the full report at the UK Collaborative Centre For Housing Evidence: Tackling The UK Housing Crisis: Is Supply The Answer?

Two: We don’t think America is even approaching the corner when it comes to solving the truly affordable housing crises that are beating down the country’s underclasses.

Encouraging Sightline-touted breakthroughs in government awareness, such as permitting ADUs in existing backyards, offer but a drop in the bucket for lower income citizens who are already homeless, at dire risk of homelessness, or severely housing burdened. And organized larger-scale ADU projects seem to be bubble-under-the-wallpaper solutions — de-commodified housing held out of the free market for a few years, only to eventually disappear as lowest-income options.

At affordablehousingaction.org, we’d be more confident of abundance if there were signs of more public housing. It is a proven successful large scale de-commodification of shelter for the most vulnerable with low or no income. In 2019, news about public housing was muted in the extreme.1

Having said all that, if you haven’t already groaned yourself and jumped to the following link, read more at  Sightline: 2019: The Year Abundant Housing Turned The Corner


  1. See this post: Outside the Box: Humboldt County, CA Thinks The Unthinkable