Earlier this year, The Economist ran a piece making the case that the West’s “obsession” with home ownership “undermines growth, fairness and public faith in capitalism.” The roots for this go back to a shift in public policy in the 1950s to encourage home ownership over renting. The benefits of home ownership, writes the author, are overblown. What’s more, the “cult of owner-occupation has huge costs. Those who own homes often become NIMBYs who resist development in an effort to protect their investments.”
This article is the topic of discussion on today’s episode of Upzoned, with host Abby Kinney, an urban planner in Kansas City, and regular cohost Chuck Marohn, the founder and president of Strong Towns. Abby and Chuck discuss whether there really is an infatuation with home ownership in the United States, and what effect that infatuation may be having on the housing crisis and economic inequality. They talk about the role of home ownership in giving residents a stake in creating wealth and stability. And they discuss why it’s important to resist oversimplifying the phenomena of housing unaffordability.
Then in the Downzone, Chuck talks about finally finishing Union, by Colin Woodard, a great book he started before his accident. And Abby recommends The Myth of Capitalism, co-authored by Denise Hearn, who was also a guest on Monday’s episode of the Strong Towns podcast.
Additional Show Notes
“Home ownership is the West’s biggest economic-policy mistake” (The Economist)
Abby Kinney (Twitter)
Charles Marohn (Twitter)
Gould Evans Studio for City Design
Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud)
Further reading from Strong Towns on the housing crisis
“What Can Hives and Barnacles Teach Us About Solving a Housing Crisis?” by Patrick Condon
“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Housing Prices” (Podcast)
“Could This Bottom-Up Method to Address the Housing Crisis Work Where You Live Too?” by Rachel Quednau
“Want to make housing more affordable? Start by designing neighborhoods, not just buildings.” by Quint Studer
“We Used to Just Call These Houses,” by Daniel Herriges