“The hotter the housing market, the higher the homelessness.” ~ Paleolibertarian author Ilana Mercer. To grasp the meaning of paleolibertarian, Wikipedia provides this definition: “Paleolibertarianism (also known as the “Paleo strategy”) is a libertarian political activism strategy aimed at uniting libertarians and paleoconservatives.” Oxford Languages explains that paleo means: “older or ancient.” So self-described paleolibertarian author Ilana Mercer is apparently seeking to use facts, information, and ideas to bring together groups that aren’t always on the same page. Mercer’s take on contributing causes of homelessness in an evidence- and common-sense based column which is Part 1 of this report. Note she never mentions manufactured homes, so when she speaks of housing, the inference is far more costly conventional housing. Part 2 of this article will be additional information with more MHLivingNews analysis and commentary that blends insights from Mercer with those found in the Masthead on MHProNews on the ‘MAMA Report’ plus a hopefully useful to many Jenga analogy.
Part 1: from the WND News Center to MHLivingNews is the following op-ed by Mercer that explores contributing factors to homelessness.
Conservatives & liberals aligned with developers against the homeless
Ilana Mercer on how high-tech foreign workers have affected housing costs in Seattle, other cities
By Ilana Mercer
Published March 30, 2023 at 7:02pm
The hotter the housing market, the higher the homelessness. ~ Ilana
Trust the late, much-missed Anthony Bourdain, the Kerouac of cooking, to blurt out the truth when nobody else would as to the root causes of homelessness. Other than libeling the poor as mental drug addicts, the rest – conservatives and liberals in cahoots – call for denser development (as greedy developers lick their chops) and certainly none of those dreamy picket fences for the poor.
Following his Jack Kerouac wanderlust, Bourdain had arrived in Seattle to spotlight the manner in which high-tech was changing the city, draining it of its character and of the many quirky characters that made Seattle what it was.
“Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Expedia, and Amazon are the big dogs in town,” mused Bourdain. “A flood of them – tech industry workers, mostly male, derisively referred to as tech boys or tech bros – is rapidly changing the DNA of the city, rewiring it to satisfy their own newly-empowered nerdly appetites.”
That the “tech boys” “are so dull,” as members of a Seattle band say – and sing – in no way assuages their heated effect on the housing market. A street artist called “John Criscitello … told Bourdain how the high-tech influx has driven up housing costs and forced artists [like himself] out of the neighborhood.”
Yes, Big Tech is exacerbating homelessness in Seattle and the surrounds. While correlation is not causation, the ongoing and never-ending, annual importation of a sizable feudal elite from China and India must be factored into the homelessness equation.
“Buoyed by the city’s thriving technology industry, Seattle has consistently been the hottest housing market in the nation.” Commensurate with the explosion in the number of Seattle neighborhoods in which homes cost $1 million has been an explosion in the region’s homeless population.
“Households must earn about $140,000 a year to afford mortgage payments – nearly double the city’s typical income,” but on par with the “average base pay” of a software engineer in the Seattle area.
Some consciousness of guilt was evinced by Microsoft. The company threw money at a problem to which it has greatly contributed. In 2014, Microsoft allocated $500 million toward low-income housing, because, somehow, working-class families who should be inching into middle-class were sliding into poverty, unable to afford homes in Seattle and its surrounding counties.
“There are more families with children than chronically homeless people” in the homeless encampments, revealed the Seattle Times. “Fewer than 50 percent of people without homes are addicts.” Underlying homelessness are factors such as “loss of a job,” “eviction,” “medical bills and foreclosure,” the last of which “destroys credit ratings, making former homeowners no longer eligible for loans or, in many cases, rentals.”
Among her homeless acquaintances, local writer Lola Peters counts “[a] seamstress, her mortgage broker husband and their two children. Several couples going through the breakup of long-term relationships. A nurse. The middle-aged couple who owned their home and two nearby rental houses. A woman, with a 4-year-old child, who lost her job shortly after moving to Seattle. A floral delivery worker. A painter.”
“They are not alcoholics or drug addicts,” protests Peters, an activist. “They are people who suffered as a result of political and economic decisions they had no part in.” Indeed, data cobbled together in Aaron Carr’s essay, “Everything you think you know about homelessness is wrong,” very clearly expose the mental illness and drug addiction casual factors as so much libel.
And it’s not only Seattle and its suburbs that are filled with suffering, marginalized Americans.
Via CBS News comes the unwelcome news that, “Even with rising wages and falling mortgage rates, Americans can’t afford a home in more than 70 percent of the country. Out of 473 U.S. counties analyzed in a report, 335 listed median home prices more than what average wage earners could afford, according to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions.”
Driven by an unending influx of immigrants, realtor.com certainly revels in the tight housing market created by immigration-friendly central planners:
“[S]waths of America have seen local housing fundamentally altered by an influx of new immigrant groups. There are now about 42 million immigrants from just about every country in the world living in the U.S., making up about 13 percent of the overall population, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.”
“Immigrants are a big driving force for housing markets across the nation,” says Kusum Mundra, an economics professor at Rutgers University, Newark. “Most want the American dream, which is to own a home.”
With The World clamoring for the American Dream, the average home in the U.S. will soon cost half a million dollars. “Rents are rising much faster than income, while the median home price in some 200 cities is $1 million.”
“Homelessness – perhaps the most extreme form of poverty – is a symptom, surging in high-cost cities,” notes The Economist. “The problem,” moreover, “is most acute in America’s most-thriving cities, the ones governed by unabashed liberals. In 2018, New York estimated its homeless population to be over 79,000, or 48 percent more than in 2010. … California now accounts for one in four homeless Americans.”
“Unabashed liberal” outfits like The Economist, The Brooking Institute and the Seattle Times blame inadequate supply for the housing crisis, ignoring the demand side of the supply-and-demand housing equation whereby Big Tech is permitted to petition The State for permission to import The World at a price heavily subsidized by the disenfranchised American taxpayer. Through government immigration policies, a ceaseless demand for housing has been generated.
In particular does the Economist implicate “local control over zoning” for “poor housing supply.”
Zoning regulations, historically – whereby municipal governments decide “what parts of the city will be industrial, residential or commercial” – are indeed linked to high-cost housing. However, city planners have been determining where people live, work and do business for close on a century. Pure market forces and the price system have been absent in city planning for a very long time.
It is, therefore, more edifying to survey the special interests currently involved in the anti-zoning debate. Tellingly, these are the grubby interests of the developers, the realtors and the municipalities, hunkering after more property taxes. All are, inadvertently, protesting the idea of the “Single-family home that offers people a chance at traditional, white-picket fence homeownership.”
Development fiends all hunger for the revenues that come from “dense housing,” namely “any housing that’s attached to another unit, often in taller buildings: apartments, condos, town homes, row houses.”
Against this background, it seems clear that the egalitarians have appropriated the anti-zoning argument. They now malign single-family neighborhoods in favor of promoting density, which is – wouldn’t you know it? – more expensive and thus more lucrative. Dense living also jibes with the progressive climate agenda to corral as many people possible into rent-a-bed, pod-living arrangements.
To the working poor, the new cell-block units that replace single-family homes are worse than useless, as they cost so much more than the (often conveniently condemned) homes torn down.
No wonder The Economist clucks in outrage against “local control over zoning.” As ruthless and reckless as it is, local government is more likely than state or federal governments to be responsive to the petitions of single-family homeowners against building “dense housing,” to accommodate Jeff Bezos’ H-1B visa arrivals.
The World is the American multinational’s labor marker. The housing market in the U.S. reflects that reality. Unburdened by brains, pundits and politicos remain incurious as to why supply and demand in housing can never be brought into a semblance of a balance in such a perversely globalized labor market.
Part 2: Additional Information with More MHLivingNews Analysis and Commentary
MHLivingNews published a report on the housing problem in Seattle, WA several years ago. In that report, which cited local sources, we editorially made the point that there was a choice to be made. The lack of affordable manufactured homes meant tents. Homeowners had a choice: tents for the homeless in or near their houses, or manufactured homes somewhere nearby.
There are obvious similarities and differences between that report and this one by Mercer. But to round out her thesis, a few additional pull quotes from Mercer’s companion post linked above and here are useful and insightful.
- Corporations that straddle the globe rely on immigration ignoramuses to perpetuate the single-cause theory of homelessness: addiction or mental illness ~Ilana
- Through government immigration policies, a ceaseless demand for housing has been generated ~Ilana
- Big Tech must be quite pleased to see homelessness attributed exclusively, by the usual cast on TV, to addiction and mental illness—when, in fact, homelessness is driven, primarily, by the systematic and permanent eviction from the housing market of vulnerable, working-class people.
- Seventy-one percent of Washington State’s population growth is attributed to net migration!
- “At its root, the crisis is a supply problem,” jabberedan “expert,” in the New York Times. Really? Whatever happened to the demand side of the supply-and-demand, housing-market equation?
- By grant of government privilege, Big Tech is permitted to petition The Statefor permission to import The World at a price heavily subsidized by the disenfranchised American taxpayer. Through government immigration policies, a ceaseless demand for housing has been generated.
Mercer indeed has illustrated several vexing points, but because they are tied to immigration, they are ‘politically incorrect’ ones. As our MHProNews sister site has previously noted, immigration policy is an obvious contributing factor to the supply and demand equation. Not only are there ‘illegal’ immigrants crossing our borders by the millions annually in the past two plus years, but there are also passport holders in the tech and other sectors and legal immigrants too.
Homing in on Mercer’s point about corporations with clout being a key issue, let’s flashback to our report, linked below, that cited research claiming 83 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with major corporations.
Without endorsing each or every aspect of the items mentioned in this award winning documentary posted below, the Corporation yields an interesting option that too few consider today.
Despite the fact that The Corporation documentary was popular, the notion of taking away a corporate charter if a company becomes a threat is rarely heard today. The official ‘trailer’ is above, the full-length documentary is posted below. Note that many of the giant firms shown in the opening of the video are still big today. Indeed, many are bigger now than they were when this documentary was produced. Having influence over the much of the mainstream media has its obvious perks.
While it is going too far to accuse every wealthy person, or every corporation, of engaging in ‘criminal’ or immoral acts, it is nevertheless useful to grasp the point that numerous social, economic, and political ills are traceable to giant corporate interests and a small sliver of the population – billionaires – that routinely has ties to big corporate, big media/tech, big finance, and philanthro-feudalism (philanthro-capitalism).
Having pointed out a ‘likely suspect’ in this lack of affordable housing issue, pivot back to Mercer’s point about the impacts on the law of supply and demand.
When demand overwhelms supply, of course the structure of the housing system in the U.S. frays and hundreds of thousands of American citizens – the homeless – are paying a price.
But so too are taxpayers.
Not only are ‘middle class’ income taxpayers paying more as incomes rise due to an anticipated ‘inflation,’ but as valuations on housing have risen, property taxes are rising too. That obviously impacts homeowners, but higher property taxes also impacts renters too as that cost is passed on by landlords to their tenants. This sheds light on the notion that inflation is a stealthy way of raising taxes without an obvious vote on the subject of taxes. Note too that corporations, and by extension the deep pocketed billionaires’ who have a financial interest in them, routinely pass along taxes to customers as part of their cost of doing business. There is no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAFL).
Pivoting again back to the affordable housing crisis. With millions ‘pulling’ on those metaphorical Jenga blocks, at some point, the housing market’s structure weakens and may tumble something akin to what occurred circa 2008 during the housing/financial crisis, even though all of the causes are not quite the same. Let’s briefly note that the co-called fixes to the housing/financial crisis, that included the enactment of the Dodd-Frank act where supposed to avoid another crisis from ever occurring again. Now, in the wake of inflation induced roils in the banking system, it is apparent in hindsight that Dodd-Frank accelerated the consolidation of the financial system. Bigger financial institutions often became larger still, while smaller ones often become targets of consolidation, or failed.
A lack of affordable housing simply must be explored with modern manufactured homes in mind. Minneapolis Federal Reserve economist James A. “Jim” Schmitz has said that for homes to be affordable, they must be made in a factory. Schmitz has several of his own keen points. His research has pointed to the ‘sabotaging’ of the manufactured home market by competitors. Those developers and other housing professionals Mercer described, wittingly or not, are part of the picture that Schmitz has detailed.
To be clear. Zoning is a problem that has been documented as limiting affordable homes, but not necessarily in the ways that some might think. HUD researchers Pamela Blumenthal and Regina Gray have said that experts and politicians from both major parties have been promising for 50 years to fix the housing mess in the U.S. So with tens of billions being spent annually by federal officials alone, why is the problem getting worse? Yes, immigration is an obvious factor. MHProNews published a report in 2019 that said, ‘want a robust economy? Fix the immigration/border crisis.’ But so too are other de facto policies that make the housing imbalance worse. See the research linked below.
Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson was a seemingly sincere advocate for modern manufactured homes. He appeared to acknowledge the federal government’s role in undermining the industry. He pledged to fix it. But now Carson is out and Secretary Marcia Fudge is in. While Fudge has had nice things to say about manufactured homes, she has also said that the current situation may never change unless it is properly addressed. Oddly, she has renounced the solution she claims to support.
Because people need housing, some 9 million younger adults last year returned to living with mom and dad. For some, the only other option might have been homelessness. Despite big increases in federal spending, homelessness rose last year, per HUD’s own data.
The solution ought to be obvious. There is a need for more affordable housing. The most proven form of affordable housing in modern American history is manufactured housing. Manufactured homes offers a path ahead which could be performed by the free market. That was explored in a 4.1.2023 report linked below. Note that this could be accomplished essentially without special federal or state subsidies. Meaning, it could save taxpayers’ money.
Caution. The report above presumes someone is familiar with reports like the one linked here and below.
If the looming financial/housing crisis is anything like the one circa 2008, deep pockets will get richer because they have the capital to do so. Which ironically brings us back to another one of Mercer’s points, quoted above: “Corporations that straddle the globe rely on immigration ignoramuses to perpetuate the single-cause theory of homelessness: addiction or mental illness.” For years, legally and illegally, big corporations have effectively imported cheap labor. Our economic and political system has been coarsened via buying votes through campaign contributions, “Iron Triangle” lobbying, and the revolving door among other methods.
Part of getting to the root cause of the problems must include lawfully punishing those who have fostered this troubling set of dynamics in the first place.
Modern manufactured homes can be part of the solution. But common-sense understanding must lead the way in order for that to occur. ##
That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
Recent and Related Reports:
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.