What the Pandemic Taught Us About the Homeless — and What We Shouldn’t Forget

The streets of our cities have been too empty and too full.

Emptied of cars and pedestrians, the streets of the pandemic became eerie still frames of an economy on pause. And yet, as we venture back to our sidewalks and storefronts, we are reminded that our streets also are a home, an imperfect and unsustainable haven for the transient masses we call “the homeless.” Never has it been starker than in the vacuum of social distancing that they are there, the only people who remained when all others retreated to the safety of their homes.

Thus begins my latest op-ed, co-authored with Thomas Hugh Byrne from Boston University and Benjamin F. Henwood from the University of Southern California, originally published in The Hill.

To read the full op-ed, click here.

Our American Discourse, Ep. 31: Millennials Knocking on the Door of the American Dream

At long last, Millennials have begun buying homes. Will they ever catch up to previous generations? Or will the market continue to hold them back with high rents, lingering student debt, and opposing pressure from Baby Boomers? Believe it or not, these forces are neither inevitable nor insurmountable. There is a third way, a bridge between the generations, a new social contract that’s mutually beneficial for all…if we choose to see with enlightened eyes.

In this episode, Dowell Myers questions the fate of a generation grasping at the mantle of opportunity and projects the possible future scenarios they are rapidly approaching.

Continue reading “Our American Discourse, Ep. 31: Millennials Knocking on the Door of the American Dream”

Our American Discourse, Ep. 12: The Great American Housing Finance System and the Role of the Federal Government

Housing is local, but money is global. Therein lie both conflict and collective opportunity. For while our cities and our citizens need targeted strategies, they cannot achieve their full potential on their own. Thus, the federal government has developed a complex toolkit of policies over the past eighty-plus years, some of which work better than others and all of which are evolving. What is the best way to allocate our resources toward housing affordability? How far are we from that goal? How do we even agree on what affordability means?

In this episode, our resident housing finance expert Richard K. Green walks us step-by-step through these winding routes we’ve constructed to access the American dream.

Prof. Green is the Chair of the Department of Policy Analysis and Real Estate in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California, where he also serves as the Director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate in the Price School and the Marshall School of Business. He recently finished a year as Senior Advisor for Housing Finance at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is currently a Trustee of the Urban Land Institute, a Weimer Fellow at the Homer Hoyt Institute, and a member of the faculty of the Selden Institute for Advanced Studies in Real Estate. He has previously served as Director of Financial Strategy and Policy Analysis at Freddie Mac, Chair of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chair of Real Estate Finance at The George Washington University School of Business, and President of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.

To listen to this episode of Our American Discourse, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play.

==========

“Our American Discourse” is produced by Aubrey HicksJonathan Schwartz, and myself, and mixed by Corey and Ryan Hedden.

The Art of Distraction

Prof. Mishra has a knack for changing the subject.

When asked about income taxes, he talked about corporate taxes. When asked about the Federal Reserve, he brought the conversation around to Glass-Steagall. When asked about the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), his focus turned to the “government-sponsored enterprises” (GSEs): Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here’s how he did it:   Continue reading “The Art of Distraction”

Reader Request: What Happened to All That Value?

I LOVE receiving feedback from readers, good or bad. Lately I’ve had trouble thinking of original ideas to write about. When I used to write every week for the Standard-Speaker, I never lacked for topics because readers emailed me all sorts of questions and opinions. I hope “Reader Request” will become a regular feature, but of course…that all depends on you, doesn’t it?

A reader asks: My 28-year-old son just purchased his first home. He has a job but makes very little money. Nonetheless, he was able to make this important first investment because the house was available for sale as a result of foreclosure. This economic circumstance reduced the price of the house to the point that, inspite of his meager means, he was able to afford it. Where did the difference in the foreclosed debt and the value in excess of the price he paid in the transaction come from? Ironically, he is entitled to the Government’s $8k tax credit for first-time home buyers which he did not need to affect the purchase. Continue reading “Reader Request: What Happened to All That Value?”