“60 Minutes” on the 4+ million housing units needed in the United States

This past Sunday, 60 Minutes addressed the sizable need for housing throughout the United States:

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on Pexels.com

Daryl Fairweather: We are not building enough housing for everybody who needs a place to live. We built fewer homes in the 2010s than in any decade going back to the 1960s, and at the same time millennials are the biggest generation and they’re entering into home-buying age. Millennials aren’t living in their parents’ basement any more or shacking up with roommates, they want a place of their own, and we didn’t build any housing for them in the last decade because we are still so traumatized by the last housing crisis. We didn’t put any investment into housing…

Daryl Fairweather: The government has estimated that we are short about 4 million homes in this country, and that number is likely growing, especially since the pandemic.

In my opinion, the emphasis in the rest of the segment on institutional buyers is a weird way to go given the numbers cited above. If we need over 4 million housing units, it seems like more of this falls on developers, builders, and communities to open up opportunities for new housing for millennials and others who really want it.

I wonder how much of this now works like it seems to in the auto industry. Auto makers have shifted to making trucks and SUVs because there is demand and a higher profit margin. These vehicles are not greener but there is a lot of money to be made. Is the same true of starter homes? Smaller units simply do not bring in as much money as a larger house with more amenities. And, if builders and developers have to go through a significant process to purchase land, get approval, and go through construction, wouldn’t they want more money at the end?

I think we should ask about the civic responsibility of those who can approve homes and/or build homes. Don’t we need more housing? Shouldn’t this be a shared responsibility across actors? Why are so many Americans willing to get into their particular housing unit and then shut the door to those who want a similar opportunity?

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