Gabryella Sherman is a Runner-Up in our recent Ark Law Student Voices Scholarship Essay Contest. To address causes and solutions of the American housing shortage, Gabryella states, “The housing shortage in the metropolitan areas of the United States is not a simple problem that has a simple solution with precise steps. Rather, it is a complex and multi-faceted issue that can be improved rather than entirely eliminated.” Job opportunity generates an influx of movement into cities, but corporations have the power to strategically attract people to varied areas outside of overly-packed city centers.
Maya Insidioso-Tucker researched the topic of the housing shortage in America, and provided some alarming facts as part of her Student Voices Scholarship Essay. With statistics that include 9.5% of all US households and 26% of all renter households considered “extremely low-income,” there are essentially 11.2 million households that fit into this category; only 35 affordable homes are available for every 100 extremely low-income household. Society has changed to the degree that millennials are living with parents longer, adults are living with roommate longer to spare expenses, and more people are turning to the “tiny house” movement. The question is whether this is preferred or forced.
“Why live in a metropolis in the first place? Why endure the polluted air, the high prices, the increased potential for crime, and the fierce competition for everything from water to jobs?” These are the questions posed from Josh Halczak as an introduction to his essay on the housing crisis in America for our Student Voices Scholarship Essay contest. Josh creates metaphoric imagery comparing a metro area to a fire, and people tend to flock to the center for the warmth, light and opportunity it provides. Josh recognizes that it’s easy to talk about expansion, but in reality there are only three options: upward, downward and outward. Some may be reserved for science fiction novels, but others have potential.
The American housing shortage is impacting many metro areas across the country, Boston being one, as discussed by Elizabeth Brayton in her submission to the Ark Law Student Voices Scholarship Essay Contest. Spotlighting her hometown of Boston, Elizabeth notices that specific issues include “discrimination against minority communities, little protection for those living in fear of displacement, and a market which favors economic growth over the quality of life of its residents.” The residing Mayor Walsh has promised 53,000 new housing markets by 2030, but everyone must be educated on the matters on hand and be supportive of the developing initiatives.
As part of our Student Voices collection, Margaret Rowley shared a first-hand experience with the American housing shortage in her current hometown of New York City. “I can think of few things as anxiety provoking as trying to find an affordable, safe and desirable apartment in a city where there is a shortage of housing,” she states. Americans have built “location bubbles” and are moving at the lowest rate on record, exasperated by the lack of construction to meet demand. A blend of short-term regulation changes and long-term insight begin to point society in the right direction towards change.
Ark Law Group asked students to discuss some of the causes and propose some resolutions to the American housing shortage as part of the most recent Student Voices Scholarship essay contest. Yasmine Ahkami cited the Wall Street Journal article that spoke to the scope of the issue, now recognizing over 22 states in the country not having houses being built quickly enough to meet demand. Yasmine discusses the importance of local analytics to provide “a more nuanced look at the interplay between housing regulations, income levels, zoning laws, and the demographics of a particular area” in order to appropriately pinpoint the most effective resolutions.
“For people of lesser economic privilege, finding affordable housing in a desirable part of town is akin to finding a needle in a haystack: near impossible,” writes Natalie Duke, a runner-up in our most recent Student Voices Scholarship Essay Contest. Natalie traces American history back to the waves of European immigration to the United States and further addresses the impact of slavery in the US as she addresses how entire groups of people became disenfranchised and how it led to an ongoing generational impact. As Natalie suggests, “Today in the United States exists a crisis which threatens the American Dream.”
Cole Peterson, a Runner-Up in our Student Voices Scholarship Essay Contest, approached the housing shortage essay prompt with a localized view from his hometown in Waxhaw, North Carolina. Despite the influx of commercial and residential builds, none have been new affordable housing units subsidized by HUD - and Waxhaw is not alone. Cole proposes several solutions to the affordable housing crisis, but also points out that the reality of most solutions involves the added hurdle of garnering political capital.
The Student Voices Scholarship Program results in students from around the country sharing their insights on various topics prevalent in today’s society. Catherine Adam recently submitted an essay regarding the causes and solutions of the housing shortage, and is recognized as a Runner-Up for this quarterly prompt. Catherine postulates that an underlying thread across each city’s individual problems stems from decades of racism and gentrification, and still today becomes a root issue when current homeowners oppose construction of public housing complexes in their neighborhoods, preventing diversity returning to the cities that people once fled.
The Student Voices Scholarship Program is highlighting another Runner-Up from the recent essay prompt about the housing shortage. Aaron Knapp points to variables like population influx, increased rent costs, decreased median wages and gentrification as considerations when examining the root cause of housing crises in metro areas. He addresses that the problem in reference is truly with regards to “affordable housing,” not housing as a whole. However, with affordability commonly referred to as 30% of total household income, most dwelling options in metro areas force the tenant to decide whether putting themselves in a financial bind is a worthwhile tradeoff.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, recently renamed the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection by new Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, just released their Summer 2018 edition of Supervisory Highlights. The report summarizes their previous year's investigative activity of financial companies in the auto loan servicing, credit card, debt collection, mortgage servicing, payday lending, and small business lending industries.
Congratulations to Thomas Hayes, a runner-up in the most recent quarterly Ark Law Student Voices Scholarship contest. Thomas recognizes the foundation of supply-and-demand economics as the basis for America’s recent housing shortage, due to a continued growth in population and the millennial generation now reaching the home-buying age. Additionally, the benefit of current owners to be rate-locked is preventing them from wanting to sell-off and hope to find another home in this scarce environment. Thomas poses some unique solutions, including referencing architect Jeff White, who is prototyping tiny homes that cost only $36,000 to build.