During the 2016 American Federal Elections, we called Affordable Housing the ‘Elephant in the Room’.1 For all that it was clearly a growing crisis, the political class — both parties — simply weren’t talking about it. Presumably they believed that the American people weren’t interested in hearing about it either.
In the 2020 American elections, political attitudes have both significantly changed, and just as significantly, remained the same. The candidates for the Democratic nomination have taken note of the crisis. Most, if not all claim to take a constructive interest in the problem, their perspectives burnished with promises, should one or the other win the presidency.
On the Republican side: radio silence. Candidates at all levels are taking the lead from the Republican administration, which continues to disengage from the nation’s affordable housing crises as if they were battle fought and won, and now deserving little or no support by way of federal intervention.
The writing for politicians is on the wall, however.
The current phase of world wide affordable housing crises was triggered in 2008 with the collapse of a global house of cards built by the housing mortgage industry.
Governments fell because of this crisis. In Ireland, a decade ago, a changing of the guard put the nation’s economic future in new hands promising to tackle the recession that followed.
Those hands remained at the wheel as housing prices cratered, then slowly began to inch up again. And up. And up still more.
How far up is too far? Rental and home ownership prices are soaring beyond the reach of a new generation of home buyers and renters.
The scarcity of affordable housing is a crisis the afflicts Ireland, but also other countries. And politicians, whether awake to the gathering storm or not, stand to pay a price.
Ireland may well be the bellwether of a coming social change storm. The business-as-usual promise of continued economic growth did not capture the hearts of voters in the most recent election, which returned a three-way tie, rather than one dominant party.
This promises a minority government and the shape of it is currently anybody’s guess.
Most startling of the Irish results is the rehabilitation of the Sinn Fein Party, once linked to Irish terrorism, but now leading a public surge of concern about social issues of housing and health.
Read more about the influence of housing leading up to the election in The Business Times: Irish Housing Crisis Derails Varadkar’s Re-Election Bid
As for implications of the election results, read more at NPR: 3 Big Takeaways From Sinn Fein’s Stunning Surge In Ireland