Associate Professor Northeastern University

Some General Observations on Housing

Added on by Matthew Smith.

My colleague and co-author Stephen Hall told me over email that in the UK 40 years ago social housing in the form of council estates were all over the UK.  Thatcherite reforms took many private and others were transferred to some form of non-profit management oversight.  Today council housing in the UK is fading awayAnd rents have been rising for decade (although they've gone flat in the last year).  It's hard not to see a connection between the rise in rents and the elimination of council housing.

Unsurprisingly, a common response to this housing crisis is to argue for something like the mass return of social housing.  Unsurprisingly, in the US, the rise of renting and rental costs has not been met by a widespread call for renewed social housing.  For, social housing was not part of the American experience over the past 50 years.  Rather, there was a vast post WW2 suburban building boom in which entire generational cohorts moved in to modest single family homes.  The prescribed content of American nostalgia is this brief moment of sudden homeownership by a single generational cohort.  Could this be a partial explanation for the failure of the American imagination when it comes to responding to the housing crisis here?

This is an inaugural blog post.  More after this experiment.