Mighty brains of academia and non-profit figure out why Americans are homeless

There is a new book from some of America’s smartest people. First, the credentials…

GREGG COLBURN is an assistant professor of real estate at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. … Gregg holds a PhD and an MSW from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from Northwestern University. … Gregg is also a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Family Homelessness Evaluation Committee and co-chair of the University of Washington’s Homelessness Research Initiative.

CLAYTON PAGE ALDERN is a neuroscientist turned journalist and data scientist based in Seattle. … A Rhodes scholar and a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow, he holds a master’s in neuroscience and a master’s in public policy from the University of Oxford. He is also a research affiliate at the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington.

What have these mighty brains learned? From Homelessness is a Housing Problem:

the researchers illustrate how absolute rent levels and rental vacancy rates are associated with regional rates of homelessness.

The higher the rent, the higher the rate of people who can’t afford the rent:

In other words, we aren’t wealthy enough to build and maintain the housing to which we believe ourselves entitled.

Meanwhile, more than 200,000 people come over the southern border every month to claim asylum (US CBP stats) and common decency demands that, regardless of whether any can or do work, all be provided with reasonable quality housing. According to a book that I recently finished, The Swamp, there may be a limit to how many of these newcomers can come to South Florida. From a legal point of view, we can’t keep robbing the federally-protected Everglades of water. Our abuse of the animals who live there has some limits.

From a newspaper that passionately advocates for expanded low-skill immigration… “The Housing Shortage Isn’t Just a Coastal Crisis Anymore” (NYT, July 14):

What once seemed a blue-state coastal problem has increasingly become a national one, with consequences for the quality of life of American families, the health of the national economy and the politics of housing construction.

Freddie Mac has estimated that the nation is short 3.8 million housing units to keep up with household formation.

It is not an expanding population due to immigration that drives up prices in an Econ 101 supply and demand curve intersection, but rather inequality:

Other forces like widening income inequality also worsen housing affordability, said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. That’s because more higher-income households compete for limited housing (prompting builders to build high-end homes).

Our brightest minds are working on this:

The Biden administration also released a long list of ideas this spring for boosting housing supply.

The word “immigration” does not occur in this article.


16 thoughts on “Mighty brains of academia and non-profit figure out why Americans are homeless

  1. Look at the bright side, only a “small fraction” of tax dollars contributed to this riveting discovery of basic economic principles. Although, once student loan forgiveness kicks in, I guess it will be all paid for by the taxpayers.

  2. The Brookings Institution praises the millions of Ukrainian refugees in Europe while offering zero solutions:


    Apparently we have an empty apartment glut:

    “Ukrainians receive the right to work and access to health, education, housing, and other services for up to three years.”

    The usual excuse:

    “European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas estimates that
    up to 3 million Ukrainians [remark: seems like a low estimate] will stay in Europe, a boon to a continent facing demographic decline.”

    The reality:

    “Warsaw’s population has increased by 15 percent, straining services like housing as rent has increased by 40 percent.”

    The dogma that we need to fill our countries to the brim is strong. I do not understand why we need more people in the age of automation.

    • I think we should start offering post-birth abortion to people in the age of automation, myself. We’re going to have to offer millions of people a clean, easy way out of the miserable lives they lead. It’s really not that difficult, it’s basically an opioid-laced form of Kool-Aid, physician assisted suicide, which many doctors support.

      Government funds can only stretch so far, despite what MMT theorists believe about our ability to just keep printing money (we’re seeing a little foretaste of that right now!)

      I think we should be offering Death Juice to more people who frankly have no business or purpose being alive in the age of automation and unsupportable deficit spending. Not less abortion: MUCH MUCH MORE abortion, retroactive abortion.

      Listen to me carefully: in order to preserve the vacation homes of the currently wealthy in the world, a lot of people are going to have to accept living with much less for the indefinite future. Many of them aren’t going to want to go on living that way, and we should cut their losses and ours by just saying: “Here. Drink this.”

  3. …”an MSW from the University of Minnesota…”

    I almost stopped reading at that point. Then he had to go on to get the doctorate, because everyone knows what life is like for an MSW. Once you get the Ph.D., I guess it means you can figure out the obvious. Lol.

  4. If you didn’t want people seek asylum from across the southern border why did you spend decades funding wars, destabilizing governments and selling arms across the southern border?

    • @Anonymous:

      When Mexico’s President proposed letting people work on plantation raising coffee and planting trees across war-torn Mexico, I guess there weren’t many takers when instead they can come to United States, claim asylum, get free food, medical care, housing and an Obamaphone!

      Hey, they’re not stupid, ya know.


      “His proposal would ask Central American migrants as well as Mexicans considering emigration to work planting trees and crops across Mexico for three years in return for an eventual six-month US work visa, López Obrador said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. ”

      They don’t wanna spend three years planting trees in Mexico, they want to claim asylum in the US, get a phone, get some medical care, get a home, and get some pizza and a driver’s license!

      Who wouldn’t take THAT even if it takes some effort to cross the river?

    • You see, @Anonymous, we can’t stop the flow of asylum-seeking migrants across the border for many of the same reasons that we can’t stop Monkeypox from infecting people and spreading as a zoonotic disease from men who like to have multiple promiscuous sex partners in orgies with other men who enjoy having multiple, promiscuous sex partners with other men in promiscuous summer orgies. Now we are being warned that it’s going to start infecting RODENTS and will then become beyond the reach of our #Science.

      Once you get it started and normalize the deviance, you’re basically f***ed!

      It just cannot be helped! Nothing can be done except to PAY.

    • Anon: These days many people want both war and immigrants! The neocons have found a new home in the Democrat party and effortlessly continue their policies as if we still had G. W. Bush as president.

      The pro-immigration wing is cheering (and buying defense stocks).

      Party lines are non-existing. People on the Shapiro show like Eric Schmidt are praising the prosperity that immigrants bring (for them …).

    • @Anonymous, you have a good point that we should never stick our noses into other countries affairs. As someone who saw my native country Syria crushed by external influences, I’m a firm believer of this. In fact, not only should we not sell arms and try to destabilize governments, we should also stop giving money and aids. Let the people of a country sort out their issues on their own to their best abilities. They will come out better from their revolution.

      Now, if you are blaming the USA for the border issue, you must also recognize that those countries from which immigrants are coming across the southern boarder are coming from countries with corrupt government. We give the government of those countries far more finical aids then selling them weapons but yet immigrants keep on coming. Care to explain why?

  5. Tempura: I think a succinct way to put it is the left wing is tricked in to thinking they’re *helping* people and right wing is fooled that they’re *hurting* others. The key difference of course being the core motivation. The people on this board just want to see people suffer.

  6. Apparently the titled intelligentsia cannot figure out simple economics while sitting in their committees.

    Assuming $50,000 in building costs for a low end apartment in a huge block per person, it would cost $50 billion to house 1,000,000 immigrants (no one wants to house the native homeless or poor cis-gendered males anyway of course).

    That is a fraction of the Wuhan Virus Relief Fund and keeps the war in Ukraine going for perhaps two months.

    Of course this is impossible, because under no circumstances can we have a healthy rental market with 4% empty apartments.

    Don’t expect the Gates Foundation or Bezos to build such apartment blocks. Talk is cheap.

  7. Other great news from titled academia:

    Professor Susan Michie, FBPsS, FAcSS, FMedSci, FBA, member of the communist party, has been appointed as Chair of the World Health Organisation’s “Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural Insights”, i.e., the group that figures out how to manipulate the population:


  8. High rents and housing shortages are certainly a problem, but those graphs don’t tell a causal story. It could be argued that there is a confounding factor: democrats often run cities with high rents and high homeless populations. Or it could be that the most expensive cities have nice climates, which homeless people also like.

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