Good piece on how talking points like “in the US there are 28 million vacant homes and only 500,000 homeless people” are quite an oversimplification, for a few reasons:
- the “vacant homes” figure represents a snapshot in time; a much smaller proportion of these homes are actually sitting empty for months or years
- many of the homes that are sitting empty are not in the same places as the homeless people
- many of these long-term vacant homes are dilapidated and basically uninhabitable
- the “500,000 homeless people” is also a snapshot in time, and doesn’t include people in ultra-precarious living situations who may become homeless tomorrow, and will also need homes
Then it goes on to talk about how having a higher proportion of (short-term) vacant homes is a good thing, actually, because when there are very few vacancies, it makes it really hard to move house (which people need to do from time to time!) – waiting for a vacancy to come up in the area you need to move to, then basically having to pay whatever outlandish rental price the landlord demands, because you have little option. The key is that these vacancies do have to be short-term, or at least the homes have to be in good condition and ready to be leased whenever; they shouldn’t be sitting idle, “off the market”, to drive up artificial shortages. (Which is the exact thing left-wing activists are mad about.)
There are clearly further issues with housing that this article doesn’t go into, but no article can just cover everything 🙂 Overall I thought it was a thorough explainer of some issues that I’d had a gut feeling existed, but wouldn’t have known enough about to describe myself.