Two Arguments I Don’t Understand About… Seattle’s Housing Problem

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Here are two arguments I don’t understand about Seattle’s Housing Problem.

1: Raising the minimum wage will help.

Now I am all for a living wage and parents not having to choose between buying food or paying a bill, so I’m for raising the wage, just not for that being a way to keep arty people in South Lake Union. When it comes to the direct, local issue of unaffordable housing in the city core and its immediate suburbs, there’s this…

If you have a finite resource and a free market, then if you simply put more money in more hands, they’ll just bid up the price of the resource and you’ll be where you started in short order.

2: We need to build more affordable units in town.

You cannot build affordable units as fast as people are arriving. You can’t build unaffordable units as fast as they arrive. Most of the nearby land is full, and buildings take time. Therefore, we run into the same issue of a finite resource and a free market. God is not making more land in this immediate area, so you have to build up or away.

There seem to be a handful of options…

1: Use all the innovations of the tiny home movement to build 150 square foot bachelor apartments, ready to fit a family of 4. It’s not as crazy as it sounds… well, sorta, but not entirely. Just cram people in.

2: “Deflect” the new arrivals. Incentivize the bigger businesses in town to actually not grow in town. Incentivize an Amazon satellite campus in Monroe, in Arlington, etc. Throw money into building more apartments and SFRs out there around walkable neighborhoods and cities plans. Incoming Amazon / Facebook / Google employees (and some existing ones) get shifted out there. Less traffic, spanking new schools, and lower rents make the option attractive for employees while taking pressure off the city core in Seattle.

Prioritize city services on helping at risk families jobs and housing out there. They remain in the region, not too far away from their social support networks. And the at risk singles… construction camps like mining camps… hard work during the day to sweat the poisons out of their system, group therapy and meetings with social workers in the evening, free room and board while in the camp, but getting market rates for their labor and building both a nest egg and a credit history, so when they’ve built the new city, they’re ready to live and work in it. All done with HUGE transparency built in.

3: Improve the commute… Make it easier for people to live far away (and possibly more attractive) by turning the commute into less of a waste. Let commuter parents place their kids in schools near their jobs. They ride the bus to school with their children, and home. Time with the kids to work on homework.

Additional, SPL has a deal with Lynda.com for free training courses, plus there’s EdX, Coursera, FreeCodeCamp.com. Set up a Commuter University program to help people learn new skills or even pursue degrees during their commutes.

And that’s it. If you want to question me, explain to me, or add options, please comment.

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