As of 2019, 49.7% of American renters spend more than a third of their household income on rent. One quarter of all renters are spending at least half their income on rent. Whole generations are being shut out of the housing market by the skyrocketing price of buying a home. How did we get here? To find out, you have to go much further back than the 2008 financial crisis, which was infamously built on the shaky foundations of subprime mortgages. In his new book, Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America, New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty uses the current housing crisis in California as a case study for the rest of the country, chronicling the building-level struggles, municipal policy fights, and sweeping economic changes that continue to rattle our notion of home.
Go beyond the episode:
- Conor Dougherty’s Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America
- Read a 2019 report on just how much rent is eating into America’s pocketbook
- Tenants used rent strikes to win rent control in post–World War I New York City. Today, rent strikes are on the rise nationally, from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.
- The rent control debates: a Stanford study from September 2019 blamed rent control for rising rents (though noting that it did lower displacement); another 2019 study from the Columbia Business School begged to differ; tenant advocates blamed industry-created loopholes in the law instead
- Why can’t we just build more affordable housing? Blame the Faircloth Amendment, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999.
- For ideas from further afield, check out Berlin’s five-year rent freeze (or as a recent Bloomberg headline memorably put it: “No City Hates Its Landlords Like Berlin Does”)
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