NYTimes: Suburban De-Zoning Doubles Housing Prices

DES PLAINES, IL - MARCH 16: A multi-family condominium project is under construction on March 16, 2011 in Des Plaines, Illinois. Request for building permits in February, a leading indicator for the strength of the housing industry, fell 8.2%, to a seasonally adjusted 517,000 units, a record low. Single-family home …
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California’s decision to end single-family suburban zoning is doubling property prices almost overnight, according to the New York Times.

The decision to end single-family zoning was made to help provide lower-cost housing for millions of Americans and migrants.

But the result is that many adult Americans now cannot afford to live in the roomy suburban houses that were built decades ago for their middle-class American parents and their expanding families. Democrats in Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, and other states are also pushing to de-zone suburbia.

The de-zoning price-spike was described in a New York Times article about a Californian who buys, remodels, and flips single-family suburban houses into multi-family dwellings:

His company bought 5120 Baxter Street for $700,000. He estimates the house would rent for $3,300 a month with a few renovations. Instead he spent about $400,000 building the new units and splitting the house, and believes he will get between $9,000 and $10,000 a month in rent across the property.

That return would increase the property’s value to about $1.7 million. The price would be galling to an aspiring homeowner who might have outbid another family before losing to Mr. Spicer and now feels cheated out of the American dream.

The lure of greater rental income is forcing families to compete with Wall Street investors, the article notes:

“My biggest fear is developers are pricing everybody out of the market,” said Pattie Estrada, a 59-year-old commercial loan processor.

The article is titled: “Where the Suburbs End: A single-family home from the 1950s is now a rental complex and a vision of California’s future.”

The state’s historic decision to break suburbia comes after millions of legal and illegal immigrants were invited by the federal government into California’s housing market, despite deep but disorganized public opposition.

That chaotic migrant inflow pushed house prices far above average wages, even as it also forced down wages for white-collar and blue-collar Americans. The economic squeeze has created huge economic incentives for developers and politicians to shove Americans back into the cramped yet expensive urban housing that their grandparents escaped in the 1950s.

“The take-home point is immigration has added 80 million people to the United States in the last 50 years,” said Steven Camarota, the research director for the Center for Immigration Studies. “Of course it has enormous consequences for housing affordability,” he said, adding

There are big winners from all this from all this population growth in these urban areas. One of the big winners is landlords, including corporate landlords.

But there’s no question that California housing is increasingly unaffordable [for families] and the cost per square foot is way up relative to average wages. So housing is just way less affordable, and the ability of people to trade up or even to buy their first home is being affected.

Migration has also stalled California salaries. For example, mid-income wages in California rose just 2.9 percent in 21 years — or roughly 0.1 percent per year — according to the establishment-funded Population Reference Bureau. During the same period, the Dow Jones index grew 100 times faster because of higher corporate profits.

Reporters and analysts have downplayed the burden of higher housing prices, Camarota said, adding:

Whenever people talk about the consequences of immigration in the establishment media, it’s always in the context of how great it is. It drives down wages, but they never say it that way. “It holds costs down for consumers” is the way it’s presented. They don’t ever say “It make houses unaffordable.” They say “It increases equity.”

The same New York Times author described the expanding housing squalor in an August 2020 article about poor migrants trying to live near to their service-sector jobs in Silicon Valley during the coronavirus crash:

There were 12 people in three bedrooms, with a bathroom whose door frequently required a knock and a kitchen where dinnertime shifts extended from 5 p.m. well into the evening.

Karla Lorenzo, a Guatemalan immigrant who cleaned houses in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, lived in the big room along the driveway. Big is a relative term when a room has five people in it. She and her partner, Abel, slept in a queen-size bed along the wall. There was a crib for the baby at the foot, with the older children’s bunk bed next to that. The other housemates had similar layouts.

Now comes a second struggle: figuring out how to pay rent. Abel is back at work at a home supply store, but Ms. Lorenzo’s housecleaning jobs dried up and one of the other families moved out — increasing the monthly bill by $850. “We don’t know how we are going to do it,” she said.

Calmatters.org reported from rural California on October 13:

Sandra Garcia, 65, who lives with her son and his family in an unincorporated community near Porterville, in Tulare County, told CalMatters she is about $3,000 behind on rent.

She said she tried to apply for rent relief last April, but a case manager at a local nonprofit told her that without pay stubs to prove a loss of income, she would be unable to qualify. Garcia explained she had been laid off from her farmworker job — “the oldest ones were among the first to be let go,” she said in Spanish — so she had no pay stubs.

Besides, Garcia said, many landlords in rural towns like hers are struggling to stay afloat. “They’re just as poor as us,” she said. “They don’t want to end up in court in case they’re the ones who are sued. And they don’t want to waste their time, either, with something that isn’t even going to help.”

Nationwide, migration is deeply unpopular because of its economic impact. It damages ordinary Americans’ career opportunities, cuts their wages, raises their rents, curbs their productivity, shrinks their political clout, widens regional wealth gaps, and wrecks their democratic, equality-promoting civic culture.

For many years, a wide variety of pollsters have shown deep and broad opposition to labor migration and the inflow of temporary contract workers into jobs sought by young U.S. graduates. This pocketbook opposition is multiracialcross-sexnon-racistclass-based, bipartisanrational, persistent, and recognizes the solidarity that Americans owe to each other.

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