Milwaukee’s ‘Worm Ouroboros’ (That’s The Snake Eating its Tail): The Affordable Housing Study That Ends Where it Began.

Modern Home photo by Jeramey Jannene is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The price of this Milwaukee house is just right. Just like the price of those beside it.
Milwaukee salaries, however, are too low.

Low incomes are the greatest barrier to affordable housing. This is the position of affordable housing reports from time to time. On this occasion we’ve felt compelled to comment.

The conclusion has a cosmic, zen-like quality, like the sound of one hand clapping. But we can reasonably assume that the committees and staff who prepare government reports do not qualify as zen masters. Though they insist in their conclusions that there is basically only one hand clapping, any sane person can tell there are two hands at work.

Why is there such a considerable pressure to convince us that when two hands meet in the middle, one hand is significant and the other is not. Low wages are significant. High housing prices are not. And yet, ultimately, the entire crisis is caused by house prices that cannot be afforded by low wages.

What, exactly is the point of studies that reach this kind of conclusion? The opposite conclusion would seem to be just as fatuous, if not more so: “Greatest barrier to affordable housing in county is high housing prices, report finds.

Is there something useful to be gleaned from this kind of government study, beyond paying civil service salaries that seem somewhat undeserved? Would that taxpayer funded expeditions in search of one or the other half of two-handed problem might yield some useful conclusions, such as:

•        incomes could be raised by taking steps such as ‘X & Y & Z’


•       housing prices might be lowered by taking steps such as ‘A & B & C’

Instead, we have, “Who clapped?”

And one of the two hands pipes up: “The other dude did it.” Read more in the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service: Greatest barrier to affordable housing in county is low incomes, report finds

Perhaps this just an expensive exercise in hand-wringing, not hand clapping, conducted on the taxpayer’s dime?