How coronavirus impacts climate change and the US housing market

I'm a big fan of Spotify's Daily Drive playlist, which is basically just Algorithmic Radio that delivers a custom mix of news and music based on my listening habits. That's how I ended listening to a podcast briefing from MarketWatch, warning about the negative impact that coronavirus is having on the luxury real estate market in the United States.

Local realtors in big cities like New York and San Francisco depend heavily on foreign investors (20 percent of whom are Chinese nationals) to buy up their inventory of recently-constructed overpriced luxury condos. And then those apartments just … kind of … sit there vacant, increasing the demand for housing and causing property values to rise, forcing out working-class families who can't afford to live in that (again, largely unoccupied) area, which spreads out the range of the greater metro areas, increasing commuter congestion and creating more opportunities for real estate investors to build more luxury condos in more remote areas to accommodate this artificially-inflated demand, which continues to be good for people who work in real estate and for foreign investors but for absolutely nobody else.

Except now, those foreign investors aren’t buying up properties as quickly as they used to, because they can't travel to the States to close the deal. And that's bad. For the economy, I mean. Or at least, for the handful of people who have been fortunate enough to profit while everyone else is slapped with higher rents and longer commutes.

But this information was of course presented with no sympathy for those who are affected by coronavirus, or by the housing crisis. Read the rest

Santa Monica expands highly successful rent subsidy program for seniors

A successful program in Santa Monica, California is simply helping folks who need help.

LAist: Read the rest

In homeless LA, the families, retirees and working people who live in their cars are desperate for overnight parking

LA's homelessness epidemic continues to rage unabated as housing prices soar and wages stagnate; the result is a "wheel estate" boom of people living in cars and vans, with the greatest proportion of vehicles-dwellers being seniors, families with children, and working people. Read the rest

Hong Kong housing is so expensive that many people live in cages

For the past 8 years, Hong Kong has received the dubious honor of having the least affordable housing market in the world. The average house price is 20 times the median household income (Los Angeles and London are about 10 and New York is about 6). As a result, many families live in very tiny apartments (75 to 140 square feet). Those who can't afford a parking lot sized apartment can live in a cage inside a room filled with stacked cages.

In this video, Johnny from Vox visits with cage dwellers and finds out how they live.

Image: Vox screenshot Read the rest

Very small Silicon Valley bungalow going for $2.6 million

In Silicon Valley, people with six-figure jobs sometimes live in vans, so how can they scrape together financing for the $2.6 million asking price for this 897-foot bungalow in Palo Alto? Just imagine what it's like for working class people, some of whom have to commute so far from affordable towns that their employers let them sleep in the parking lot. Via San Francisco Chronicle, VTA bus driver Adan Miranda is now getting kicked out of his employer's parking lot to make room for developers: Read the rest

Eviction Lab: a comprehensive database of every eviction proceeding in America for the past 16 years

The Eviction Lab is a collaboration between Princeton University and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Paperback; the lab's team gathered the court records of ever landlord-tenant proceeding in every court in every county in America for the past 16 years. Read the rest

California State Senator wants to remake cities with midrises near public transit, but he is facing a wave of nimbyism

Scott Wiener is California State Senator for San Francisco, whose SB827, co-sponsored by State Senator Nancy Skinner, will move some zoning responsibility from cities to the state, forcing cities to allow the construction of higher-density housing (duplexes, eight-plexes and midrise, six-story apartment buildings) near public transit stops. Read the rest

Zoning and the housing crisis: at Manhattan densities, San Francisco could house 100 million people

One measure of dysfunction in a housing market is the spread between the cash value of a home and the construction cost of a replacement home on the same site -- in other words, the cost of the dirt the home is sitting on. Read the rest

The last time there were this many unsold $100M+ homes on the market, the world economy imploded

Depending on how much credence you give to "whisper listings," there are between 27 and 50 $100,000,000+ houses on the market; last year, only two houses in that bracket sold worldwide. Read the rest

City of San Francisco tells man he can't live in wooden box in friend's living room

Illustrator Peter Berkowitz published an editorial in the Guardian explaining why he chose to spend $400 to live in a (cozy) wooden "pod" he made with the help of a friendly designer and another friend who was a woodworker, assembling it in the living room of a pal who charged him $400/month to house the pod (tl;dr: The rent's too damn high, with a smattering of anti-regulation philosophy) Read the rest

U.S. home ownership rates drop to lowest level in 48 years

U.S. homeownership rate is 63.4%, the lowest since 1967. Bloomberg blames it on a combination of "stringent mortgage standards and wage growth that hasn’t kept up with surging home prices." As a result, rental vacancy rates a falling and rental rates are increasing. Read the rest

London property bubble entombs a thousand digger-machines

London's property bubble has got people energetically expanding their property, digging out sub-basements -- and the insane bubblenomics of London housebuilding are such that it's cheaper to just bury the digger and abandon it than to retrieve it. London's accumulating a substrate of entombed earthmoving machinery. Read the rest