Amid Bay Area housing crisis, tiny bunk bed 'pods' offered for $800/mo.
May 12, 2022 5:54 PM   Subscribe

While the $800-a-month rent may seem steep for a stacked bunk bed pod, the average rental rate for a studio apartment near Stanford University, is currently around $2,400. Co-founder Christina Lennox has lived in a pod herself for the past year. "The wood kind of allows for relaxation, rather than like going inside of this futuristic-looking plastic object."
posted by geoff. (77 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
A freakin' privacy curtain!!?? The slumlords couldn't even have given them a damn locking door for the bedroom? Sounds like the lower classes can now stress about theft while they're at work and possible assault at night while they're sleeping.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:11 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


So this seems like a lawsuit or worse waiting to happen.

Is temporary worker a euphemism for H1B visa and other contract labor?
posted by geoff. at 6:14 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Billenium (1961).
posted by grimmelm at 6:14 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Deep yikes.
posted by prefpara at 6:20 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


"Eight-month-old startup" my ass. They tried to pull the same shit over a year ago (and a full year into the pandemic) with nonexistent pods in Brooklyn Heights.

I hope their profiteering is once again shown the curtain/door.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:23 PM on May 12 [34 favorites]


I'm growing very weary of the Stanford-to-your-town nightmare pipeline.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:31 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


'13 other roommates... The rest of the home has two bathrooms,'

uhhhh
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:32 PM on May 12 [32 favorites]


That would be two bathrooms among fourteen people, or one bathroom for every seven residents. Is that even legal? Isn't there some kind of standard about what has to be provided for that number of people? I would not want to be living there if even one person had food poisoning, for instance. When I lived in a dorm, I think the ratio was something like one to four, and of course we weren't all around all the time, and in a true emergency you could run down to another floor.
posted by Frowner at 6:33 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Had some coworkers that did this to themselves twenty years ago in Hell’s Kitchen so they could afford a sweet party loft shared space. If you’re interested in anything approximating peace and quiet in your personal life it seems like a fantastically bad concept; it’s the kind of fun mistake you make when you’re 21 and don’t know any better.
posted by q*ben at 6:34 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


I would not want to be living there if even one person had food poisoning, for instance.

Or norovirus, which is basically food poisoning that's highly transmissible via surfaces. Or, oh, what is that other highly transmissible virus going around right now??
posted by knotty knots at 6:41 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


Or, oh, what is that other highly transmissible virus going around right now??
That part!
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:50 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


How is this even legal? I'm sure the house is zoned for single family dwellings, not a fourteen-plex with 2 bathrooms for that many people. If they want to build an apartment building, then do that, don't crowd a dozen people who don't even know each other in pods.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 6:52 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Good luck trying to build an apartment complex in California.
posted by latkes at 6:58 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


I hate the cyberpunk future.
posted by Bottlecap at 7:00 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


The contempt for other human beings is mind blowing. Taking advantage of people in a bad situation they can't control just because you can. It sucks.

I would have liked something like this because I used to have drive down there for work & traffic was such that if I wasn't done working at the exact right time my hour drive home would be 3 hours of sitting in traffic, getting home at night & setting off again early in the morning. I had to shell out for hotels on my own dime. Only to get into work, dial into my meeting & be the only one not working from home that day. And this was required of me by my boss. I would have loved a little locked area with a bed & a bathroom for a reasonable price. If something like that existed they could make a fortune without stealing peoples money like this.
posted by bleep at 7:04 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


slumlords couldn't even have given them a damn locking door for the bedroom?

They'd have to provide a second exit if the space had a door (locking or not). These pods aren't technically rooms so the two exits of the room they are in are sufficient.
posted by Mitheral at 7:32 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


I don’t see how they’re taking advantage of people? When I moved to the Bay Area a solution like this was the difference between me having a place to sleep and not. The more people who get that opportunity the better.

Let people engage in mutually beneficial trade, please.
posted by hermanubis at 7:38 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


>Billenium (1961).

I recall reading in a SF short-story anthology 40-odd years ago a story with the plot being people in the overpopulated future only had 1 active day/week, the remainder being spent in suspended animation.

I discovered Georgism 20 years ago now, and boy has it served as a useful framework to understand the economics shaping our lives.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:46 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


That would be two bathrooms among fourteen people, or one bathroom for every seven residents. Is that even legal? Isn't there some kind of standard about what has to be provided for that number of people?

I lived in one of the official residential colleges at the University of Melbourne and each floor had 10 tiny (2m x 3m) rooms, with a common unisex bathroom containing 2 showers and 2-3 toilets, for that privilege, it currently costs $29k over 8 months so about $3600 per month, though it did include 3 meals a day. It's still the most exorbitant rent I have ever paid in my life....
posted by xdvesper at 7:47 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


"Okay, so, hear me out: What if, an SRO, but you can't stand up and the doors don't lock?"

"Wait, but SROs are illegal!"

"Not if we call them pods and make them even LESS safe!"

I would have actually totally been the target market for these in my 20s, and I probably would have liked the communal living situation with minimal personal space. But holy shit, dude, this is the commune for when you're doing two years of service with the Peace Corps or the JVC or ACE and work with all your housemates in an idealistic service position, not for when you're an adult with a paying job.

Also even the US Army gives you a locking footlocker!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:53 PM on May 12 [20 favorites]


So, not to go there, but what happens when your pod-mate has a 'friend' over?
posted by Toddles at 7:54 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


They're taking advantage of people because they're charging way too much for way not enough. As I said in my comment obviously something LIKE this would be welcomed without people sacrificing their dignity for $800 a month.
posted by bleep at 8:01 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


@Toddles: Maybe there’s a special pod dedicated just for *that*. A door that closes; sound proofing; perhaps even a condom vending machine. And of course there’s an app you can use to reserve a timeslot. (The app costs $6.00 to download.)

NAAAAAAAH, all those accoutrements would cut into the profits these a-holes are clearly solely driven by. Nevermind. Back to your burning dumpster of an accommodation, you mere fuel pellets for Western Capitalism’s long burn into an endless nightmare!
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:11 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


This is essentially the same set up as several hostels I’ve slept in, pods with a privacy curtain, however, you could use any of several bathrooms available in the entire building. I also couldn’t tolerate it for more than a few days and this was with most other travelers following strict hostel rules about quiet hours and visitors.
posted by Cyber666 at 8:15 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


…. and anyone who’s gonna try one of these, first go watch The Lighthouse.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:16 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


this is the commune for when you're doing two years of service with the Peace Corps or the JVC or ACE and work with all your housemates in an idealistic service position

Those groups typically all have minimum standards for housing, and this wouldn't hit the mark. The volunteers would all quit if you stacked them two-high in weird boxes.

As I said in my comment obviously something LIKE this would be welcomed without people sacrificing their dignity for $800 a month.

I'm likely going to need to be working in another city for a while this year, and it would be nice to have a safe/clean/regulated version of this available -- a dorm room would be fine. But not a box inside a house.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:19 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


This has been making the outrage-rounds in the Bay and it's bad but kind of a tiny sliver of what is so fucked about Bay Area housing.

We're at a stalemate: The 'left' has fought tooth and nail against local zoning reform that would allow for multi-unit buildings here. And the right gutted federal funding for subsidized housing decades ago and there has been no political will to bring it back. And the state has done little to step in where the feds are neglecting us, or to shape policy at the local level.

Here's one good proposal (write to your state reps, fellow Californians!)
posted by latkes at 8:26 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


four penny coffins?
posted by Clowder of bats at 8:27 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


There's a part of me that this appeals to, but it's the same part of me which is entertained by things like THX-1138 and the key point about things like THX-1138 is that they're fiction.
posted by Whale Oil at 8:32 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Good luck trying to build an apartment complex in California.

California pseudo-Left NIMBYs are fully prepared to hire hitmen to kill you.

There's a shitty underutilized mall near me (1959, natch) going up for redevelopment and the locals have spent the last five years fighting them. The design is (Chicago-me is now speaking, not Bay-Area-me) a completely reasonable mid-rise plan, public park at the intersection, decent lower- and mid-income units, decent structural design, decent facades, nice use of the space, below-grade parking ...

... and the locals in their 1959 shitbox ranch homes are throwing an absolute fit because it will mean the loss of their precious, precious, underutilized shit mall. You can't get rid of the mall!! What about the mall?!?! I used to go to that mall!

And there may be more traffic! Oh noes!

[They're also fighting a coffee shop on the grounds that it may tend to increase traffic. A coffee shop.]

aaaannnnnd lest I forget they're fighting a convenience store because it may tend to increase traffic and attract the wrong element.
posted by aramaic at 8:34 PM on May 12 [43 favorites]


So, not to go there, but what happens when your pod-mate has a 'friend' over?

Or when they eat an off egg salad sandwich..
posted by flamk at 8:44 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


@Toddles: Maybe there’s a special pod dedicated just for *that*. A door that closes; sound proofing

they got a fuck box just like in high life, i bet. cept no robert pattinson or juliette binoche.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:52 PM on May 12


the key point about things like THX-1138 is that they're fiction

Yeah, the rooms are MUCH bigger in THX-1138.
posted by bendy at 8:59 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Let people engage in mutually beneficial trade, please.

Individual transactions can have network effects, and trade that is mutually beneficial for two parties in the short-term may, in the long-term, be detrimental for people both inside and outside of that deal.

Building codes exist for a reason, especially when it comes to things like ventilation, sanitation, and fire, and a solution like this only works until it doesn't.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:01 PM on May 12 [54 favorites]


The pods in Japan start at $20 a night so for 30 days, that’s a little over $600 a month and it looks like you might get a few more amenities (like an actual door). That should probably be the minimum standard.

I think I might rather live in a converted shipping container by the airport, though. At least I could practice with a sword.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 9:30 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


Yeah, sounds like University dorms. And even sounds like 1930's hotel, in which one I lived for 6 months or so. Rooms and shared bathrooms, LOL privacy curtains, more like sock on the doorknob. That's why there are boy floors and girl floors. Nothing new here. Entitled little fucks today are just too good to have to share bathrooms and kitchens like grown ass adults. Y'all got too much stuff if it doesn't fit in a footlocker and small closet. Snowflakes.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:33 PM on May 12


Yikes.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:44 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


W/r/t communal living it's amazing how closely the 2020s actuality of the USA & comparable Western countries (of large numbers of skilled and unskilled workers drawn by swift economic change and new industries creating housing crisis in urban centres unable or unwilling to house them properly) is to the 1920s experience of the USSR (of large numbers of skilled and unskilled workers etc. etc.) This building reminds me less of university dorms or hostels or barracks than it does of the communalka...
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:45 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


There is no left and right in the Bay Area, there is only NIMBY.
posted by meowzilla at 10:32 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


This is taking advantage of people who don’t have other options. You don’t deserve less dignity because you have less money. That this is a GOOD option is an absolute condemnation on every degree. This is not mutually beneficial trade. This is leeches taking from people who are backed into a corner. This wouldn’t be happening if there weren’t massive profit being skimmed off the top, it’s not an altruistic venture. It’s a cynical venture that has identified a captive market - people who can’t afford usurious rent and figured out how to make sure they aren’t able to save enough to move somewhere else. No one is a bad person for living in a pod or for being grateful for the option. But the society that makes pod living the only option for so many is morally bankrupt.
posted by Bottlecap at 12:08 AM on May 13 [39 favorites]


It’s worth click on the Insider link from the article. Because the wide angle lens they use in the shot in the fpp makes these look a LOT more spacious than they are.
posted by Bottlecap at 12:12 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Where do you keep your clothes, toiletries or medication? I would fill that little shelf with meds alone. That's aside from owning any other stuff - I could see a minimalist not having any books or DVDs. But everyone needs clean underwear and a place for their toothbrush. And most workplaces do expect you to wear clean shirts and change your trousers at least a couple of times a week.
posted by jb at 12:38 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The pictures in the insider article indicate that you put up a tension rod and sleep under your clothes.
posted by Bottlecap at 12:54 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


So I live in a (really good) 10-person warehouse - and it suuuuuucks that parasite hostels like this get in the way of us thinking about more communal ways of living? I'm obviously biased, but for real - wouldn't making good versions of this (where have own room for a start) be smart? Even this one, if turn the 14 bunk beds into 7 rooms (mezzanine and skylight) - that'd be liveable.

Course, that doesn't get at why our housing is fucked, why it's been taken over by slum landlords who want to cram as many people as can into a space - why it's 14 people so even though rent is 'cheap' they're being overcharged and exploited.

But also, and maybe this is just part of me having the privilege of living in (one of the last, likely to be gone in 5 years) communal living situations in London, but do think that building a less capitalist, more sustainable future is more pooling, sharing more community. Like, why not share a kitchen?

one finger of the capitalist monkey paw curls
posted by litleozy at 1:10 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


So, they've gentrified the flophouse?
posted by acb at 3:07 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


I caught a documentary on CNA about housing of those who had issues finding work during Covid lockdowns in Hong Kong. They showed regular apartments converted into something like pods with plywood. Other than looking for work most people played on their phones all day and avoided their neighbors. They called them coffin homes. There are some documentaries on Youtube, but not the one I saw.
posted by joelr at 4:16 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


jb, after the first day you wouldn't have to worry about where to put your meds and you'd have a nice clean shelf to put other things on.
posted by The Monster at the End of this Thread at 4:29 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


I had a very privileged, if extremely poor childhood. I grew up in a single family home, even though my mother could never at any point afford one. As a baby, my father and mother raised us in a house owned by my step-grandfather. After the divorce, a friend of my mother's let us live in a house he'd bought.

The only time in my life I haven't had a room to myself, from the divorce through to getting married myself, was in college with roommates. Even then, in senior year, we were able to rent a house near school, and each of us could have our own room. I've seen the slow creep of the failures of the housing market in Japan over the last twenty years: the slow decline that went from "gaijin houses" where foreigners who couldn't or wouldn't pay into the absurd key money and deposit system here would pay for a single room, and how that's gone mainstream as share houses, now that more and more Japanese people are in the same bind. I've had friends whose visa sponsoring companies assigned them to shared apartments with essentially random strangers, and it always boggled my mind how their first instinct wasn't to find a place of their own as soon as possible.

Watching from afar, seeing how quickly the life-style I was born into, that I was roughly assured by everything I saw all around me growing up, that people could and should live in privacy, just utterly collapse in a decade fills me with an ongoing dread that I've never been able to shake. This is the shit that happens in the 1960s speculative fiction novels I was raised on, and only then because of massive, unsustainable population growth.

This, though, isn't that. It's fuck-you/got-mine greed. As in aramaic's example, there is plenty of space, if used properly, under the idea of the most benefit for all. And, like in most things, for the benefit of all is being choked to death by the haves, terrified of the off chance they might encounter the have-nots at any point in their daily routine.

I'd ask why people aren't up in arms about this, but this is just one of the many things I'd ask that about, and the pitchforks and torches are nowhere to be seen.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:34 AM on May 13 [28 favorites]


It’s worth click on the Insider link from the article.

Yes. You also get this little gem:

"Plants are an absolute must," she added. "Not like not real plants, but like little fake plants and stuff like decorations."

Maybe its just because I love plants (I wish my house was a jungle), but there's something vaguely ominous about fake plants being your only option in your own home. No shame on people who choose fake plants. It's just the idea of living somewhere even a pothos (the one kind of plant that my mother can't accidentally kill) can't survive
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:07 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


We must adjust to accept less! How else will the wealthy keep making money?

Young guy I now work with had moved out to Chicago area for this job. He's in some run of the mill apartment complex located adjacent to O'Hare and the industrial/commercial ring or industry surrounding it. So: plane noise, pollution, traffic, huge streets, no walking, no shops, no parks. He found out his landlord is raising the rent $500 a month. For what? Nothing. This a hearty FU to the poor and working class.

Living in a box on the street is only a few moves away from living in a semi-private pod.
posted by zerobyproxy at 6:29 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


ghost phoneme I was stuck on that quote for a while. I think it’s less that the plants won’t survive and more that a) this ain’t your space so don’t you dare bring anything even mildly approximating a pet in and b) they look cheap, and horribly constructed and will look like hell in half a year even without the water damage a plant might cause. The contempt inherent in this design is breathtaking.

I really really hate that we have a Ballard future without any damn style.
posted by arha at 6:50 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


God forbid we update zoning rules to have more SRO hotels again. That might bring the neighborhoods down, man.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:01 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


> God forbid we update zoning rules to have more SRO hotels again.

I think you'll find that California doesn't need any more or different housing and a far better and more workable solution is to just deport everyone who arrived at any time after I did.
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 7:12 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


Why don't existing zoning rules come into play here?
posted by Selena777 at 8:09 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


They probably will, give 'em time.

The pods in Japan ... looks like you might get a few more amenities (like an actual door)

Not those I've seen; a privacy curtain's all you get. And not quite the Neuromancer future yet -- at least this array of capsules isn't outside, up on the roof.
posted by Rash at 8:31 AM on May 13


there's something vaguely ominous about fake plants being your only option

My wife works for the state government, and they just moved into a new building. Everybody hates it, not only due to the almost-non-existent partitions between cubicles, but because no plants are allowed!
posted by Rash at 8:37 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


One part of the zoning dodge would seem to be that the pods are freestanding furniture; to know whether a rental is overcrowded under CA statewide standards (adopted from the Uniform Housing Code) requires specific information about square footage and etc:

Health & Saf. Code § 17922. (1997 Uniform Housing Code) § 503(b): every residential rental unit must have at least one room that is at least 120 square feet; other rooms used for living must be at least 70 square feet; and any room used for sleeping must increase the minimum floor area by 50 square feet for each occupant in excess of two). Different rules apply in the case of “efficiency units.” See § 503(b), Health & Saf. Code § 17958.1.


Those other rules wouldn't apply here as "efficiency units" can't have more than two occupants.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:38 AM on May 13


Even Black Mirror's 15 Million Merits episode gave people enough space to stand up and stretch out their arms in their sleeping spaces. (Of course, it was to have enough room for all the screens, but they still got enough space to move around....)
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 8:44 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


"Let's just say they'll be satisfied with less." (M.T.Merciless)
posted by biffa at 10:31 AM on May 13


>It’s worth click on the Insider link from the article. Because the wide angle lens they use in the shot in the fpp makes these look a LOT more spacious than they are.
posted by Bottlecap


WHAT THE FUCK!
posted by MiraK at 11:12 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


(the fuck)

why is the interior design so Goopy...nevermind of course it is. stop painting your fireplaces, heathens

posted by snuffleupagus at 11:25 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Where's a quote from someone who's not personally invested in pushing this who lives in one?
posted by Selena777 at 11:53 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Ya the developers quotes would mean a lot more if they didn't have just a single stack as their experience.
posted by Mitheral at 12:03 PM on May 13


So, they've gentrified the flophouse?

At least flophouses let you use the communal tub of water to wash up in
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:45 PM on May 13


Do we think this is more, or less, miserable than just regular bunkbeds in a room?
posted by plonkee at 4:14 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Having to sleep with all my stuff in my bed makes it worse; I would prefer a bunk bed and a locker. (Although they both seem miserable for more than a few nights.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:12 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


It looks like someone hired Ikea to build the interior of a submarine. At least they don't have to hot-rack, I guess (that'll be next—night shifters get a 30% discount!).

The NIMBYs are part of the problem here, obviously, but I'm not sure there's a straightforward solution even without them. The "just build more housing, stupid" seems suspiciously like the people in my area whose solution to highway traffic (our limiting factor) is "just build more lanes, stupid". Yes, okay, that works in the short term, but it doesn't help when there's a very large—effectively infinite—supply of people who want to move to a particular area, and the factor you're increasing is literally the thing that's holding people back.

I'm not sure that a single city can build itself out of that situation.

The City of San Francisco covers 46.9 square miles, and currently has about 875k residents, for a density of 18.7k people/sqmi. Credit where it's due: that's already the second densest major city in the US after NYC (where it's denser than any borough except Staten Island, IIRC). But in fairness, other countries do better: Osaka—which is similarly situated on a coast and near fault lines—has a density of ~32k people per sq mi, which it achieves with public transport, heavily mixed zoning, and (judging from the number of skyscrapers) no hard height requirement. But even if SF could achieve Osaka-like density, it'd really only be making room for a lucky 498k additional people. I suspect there are a hell of a lot more people who would like to live in SF than that.

While it might lower rents as the new capacity hits the market, once it fills and there's still demand for places to live—as long as somebody's still willing to pay $800/mo to bunk in the Ikea Barracks—you're back to the original problem of overcrowding.

In the long term, the only solution I can see is building up the urban cores of other cities, to try and make them desirable alternatives to the increasingly-crowded, increasingly-expensive, economic megalopolises.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:55 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


"just build more lanes, stupid". Yes, okay, that works in the short term, but it doesn't help when there's a very large—effectively infinite—supply of people

I mean, it works, in that when you build more lanes, you end up with more people sitting in traffic. It does expand the number of people sitting in traffic. If you believe that sitting in traffic is a good thing, a noble goal in itself, then building more lanes is a great way to accomplish that.

But that's not the goal. The goal is accessibility, that people should be able to reach the places they want to go, cheaply and quickly. And adding freeway lanes is a poor way to do that.

When it comes to housing, though, more people having some sort of housing really is a goal we should be striving for. Yes, of course, it would be preferable for other cities to become more desirable, that people leave (or avoid coming) rather than sign up for bunk rooms. But in terms of the question of whether it's better to ban or not ban these places, I think it's pretty clear that the answer is to not ban them. Instead, figure out how to make them fail because no one's interested, no matter how cheap, because there are better options.
posted by alexei at 11:23 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that a single city can build itself out of that situation. The City of San Francisco[...]

The pods mentioned in the OP aren't in San Francisco. Despite what you'd guess, SF isn't the largest city in the SF Bay Area.

That would be San Jose, which has both a larger land area and population. Its density is a much less 5.7 people/sq mile. The actual city mentioned in the OP is Palo Alto, which is even lower at 2.9. The cities where most of the big tech companies are located all have similarly low densities: Apple is in Cupertino, at 5.3 ppl/sql mi; Facebook is in Menlo Park, with 3.5; Google is in Mountain View, 6.7.

Silicon Valley is mostly an area of low-density office parks and single family homes; the latter on average cost over two million dollars.
posted by meowzilla at 12:49 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Housing demand needs to be addressed as nobody has done anything substantive on housing supply. Each successive generation is having to deal with housing costs rising faster than wages and "the build more houses" mantra is clearly not working. Home prices rise because demand chases supply. Housing demand is a function of the population and federal governments are presently in control of their population growth rates through immigration, because domestic reproduction is below replacement. I suspect federal immigration policy does need to be challenged if it's exasperrating the housing costs to domestic citizens. Once a working housing supply solution is in place, then open up the country again.
posted by DetriusXii at 6:42 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


^ Right-wing "populist" bullshit (read: 'nativist' -- w/full ironic weight posted from Saskatchewan) that ignores the buying up of housing stock by corporate interests.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:48 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


@snuffleupagus: I'm definitely not right wing as I consistently vote NDP. Housing stock being bought up by corporations doesn't change rental prices as the units are still rented back out. Corporations buying up housing stock and not renting out the stock would lose money for the corporation. It's been a simplistic conspiracy to blame the housing issues on corporations, but then not provide any mechanism how you actually operationalize banning corporate housing stock purchases. And some countries, like New Zealand, curbed foreign home ownership and speculation, but home prices still rose.

I am not criticizing immigrants for being here, but we're at a building occupancy limit in North America if home prices and rent are rising faster than wages.
I am not blaming immigrants themselves. We do blame night club owners for taking in more patrons than their building occupancy allows as it creates unsafe fire hazards. Home prices are set where housing demand meets housing supply and refusing to address potential policy from one half of where prices are set for a market good is crippling successful economic correction to home prices.

It's also left wing to worry about environmental policy and energy sustainability from population growth.
posted by DetriusXii at 7:38 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


You can have and express views that are objectively nativist without regard for how you vote. Casting a ballot is not determinative of one's actual politics.

It's been a simplistic conspiracy to blame the housing issues on corporations, but then not provide any mechanism how you actually operationalize banning corporate housing stock purchases


To the extent this isn't bafflegab, it's an unsupported assertion. And the mechanism is known as "regulation of the housing market." (horrors!)

And some countries, like New Zealand, curbed foreign home ownership and speculation, but home prices still rose.


Regulating one source of demand doesn't cure a systemic undersupply. The same is true of immigration; especially where it's required to replace the population. What good is better housing sitting on top of a demographic time bomb?

I am not criticizing immigrants for being here

No, you're merely blaming them for an effect they didn't cause and which won't go away if they're excluded.

It's also left wing to worry about environmental policy and energy sustainability from population growth.

It's also how left environmentalism uncomfortable with diversity wraps around into the ecofascist right.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:59 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Is there a major city that does this right? Doesn't have to be a U.S. city.
posted by Selena777 at 9:05 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Tokyo. Most American cities are small on the global scale. It is a valid point as to what the end game of Tokyo like Southern California would be in terms of water, fires, transit.

There is plenty of cheap old housing stock in bad condition where people don’t want to live. A difficulty that urban planners often experience is that it is easy to overshoot housing construction, and then you are left with a blighted neighborhood and declining property values, which cause popular resentment. It is absolutely achievable to build your way out of housing demand, although I agree that the reaction will be to explode the population of California and other desirable locations at the expense of the interior of the country.

My personal pin cushion for exploding housing costs is the avalanche of investment chasing a fixed (or slowly growing) supply. That is the mechanism for corporate investment to increase prices. It is not an increase in demand to live in a house, but to own a house which drives up the price.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:27 PM on May 14


Each successive generation is having to deal with housing costs rising faster than wages and "the build more houses" mantra is clearly not working. Home prices rise because demand chases supply.

Build more housing has been a mantra but no one has ever done it in any significant way. Increase in number of dwelling units has been outstripped by an increase in population for decades now in Canada and I believe the same is true of Southern California.

If I was god emperor of Canada right after making transit free I'd start building basic council type housing at least twice the rate of population growth and rent it out for no more than 1/3 median household income. And I'd keep it up unit either vacancy rate was pushing double digits or average private rental price was lower than 1/3 median income for comparable units.

Housing is just as much a basic right as healthcare and we should start treating it as such. That we tolerate homelessness royally pisses me off when we know we can solve the problem by giving people places to live.
posted by Mitheral at 7:49 PM on May 14 [8 favorites]


Is there a major city that does this right? Doesn't have to be a U.S. city.

Singapore - the government controls the supply, quality and price of most housing on the island, and "sells" it (a 100 year lease) to buyers based on need - you qualify for a small unit if you are getting married and moving out of your family home. If you eventually have 3 children and outgrow your unit? You qualify for an upgrade to a bigger one. It's needs based housing instead of "may the best capitalist win". It's like Public Healthcare but for Houses. It's a place to live (100 year lease) not an investment / store of value.

Over 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB housing. This has led to Singapore having one of the highest home ownership rates in the world, at over 91%. (Yes there are shitty things about this system too, but arguably the situation there is miles better than in Hong Kong)

When 80% of the population live in social housing, it has to be high quality or people start to complain, the same way how if even rich people's kids were forced to attend public schools, they'll make sure public schools are funded properly. It's not simply enough that a government funded option exists: it must be an option that is used by 80% of the population.

This is also the case with Public Healthcare in Australia - it's not just the "cheapest option" for poor people where the rich go to private hospitals. You'll find many healthcare professionals heartily endorse the public option because it is actually safer - their focus is on patient care and outcomes, rather than private hospitals which are focused on cutting costs and thus skimp on certain redundancy / safety structures that the patient can't see. You might get better food and a private room, but behind the scenes, the hospital doesn't carry as much blood, certain drugs, or don't have certain professionals on-site or on-call. There's a minimum standard in healthcare, and a recommended standard, while the public hospitals don't always meet the recommended standard at least they strive towards it. Private hospitals frequently set up right next to public hospitals, free-riding on the extra safety those things provide.
posted by xdvesper at 4:30 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


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