Rethinking Housing

If there’s one thing I hope we learned over the last ten years, it’s the fact that we need to rethink how we feel about housing. The structures that shelter us have become little more than symbols of wealth for some, and symbols of desperation for others. The mortgages that were once a source of pride for our parents and grandparents have become a commodity to be bundled and traded by unscrupulous bankers and brokers, a slap in the face of the American Dream.

Has that dream faded? Or was it never a shared, collective dream in the first place?

Homeownership has always been at the head of the class when talking about housing — it’s been something dangled in the faces of the poor, manipulated by those who control the markets. While I agree that for some, owning a home is an admirable and achievable goal — what about those who don’t want that slice of the pie? And what about those for whom that slice of the pie is simply not a realistic goal?

Creating safe and affordable rental housing has to be a priority of our government, and a larger part of the housing conversation. Tax incentives to create and preserve housing for the middle class is a good way to start — what are your thoughts and ideas?

4 thoughts on “Rethinking Housing

  • The obvious problem with housing in Baltimore is that there are thousands upon thousands of properties slumlords and banks alike have no interest in rehabbing. The less obvious problem is the habit of the city government taking on more and more vacant properties and lots without having any nice mechanisms to give them to people who want to build. Public housing is a problem that many cities have utterly failed to deal with, to construct affordable housing and for it to stay affordable. Baltimore is not one of those cities, though the way it goes about it is bad as well (Cherry Hill is a prime example).

    I think the city must fundamentally rethink the housing stock it has. Rowhouses have their charm but there is a visible lack of housing diversity in the city, from run of the mill apartments to condos to co-ops. And in the aftermath of the housing bubble, we see that our banking system has taken far too many people for a ride and made promises they knew homebuyers couldn’t keep. The city has a large enough urban core that it could plan out and pass onto to the right developers or industrious citizens to build and maintain them for middle incomes. But that has to start from City Hall.

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