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Housing Issues


Annie Lowrey has a pretty good essay on the housing shortage. She rightfully makes the point that the biggest issue is a lack of new building. I can certainly accept this, but I also think there is a whole side of this debate that we don’t talk about much–the consumer desires for what they want in housing. At least some of the issue is that people want large spaces. A quick Google search for instance shows that housing sizes doubled between 1973 and 2016. Such things take up a lot more space when housing does get built. Moreover, while there’s been something of a boom in apartment buildings, mostly people don’t want roommates and they want large apartments. It is true that roommates have grown again simply because of the massive explosion in rent prices. In any case, yeah, we do need new housing. But we need dense housing and we need small spaces for our housing. If the goal is a 2,000 square foot house for 2 people, well, we are never going to solve our housing crises. And I spell that with the plural intentionally because there’s a bunch of them all happening at the same time. Focusing on building is super important, but unless we want to pave the entire nation so everyone can have a big home with a 2 giant truck garage, it’s not the only part of the answer.

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