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American Affordable Housing Crisis, European Solutions

Commentary from Shareable said America should look across the world and how other governments have found solutions to housing shortages and affordability challenges. 

“But, elsewhere in the world, governments have found solutions rooted in very different philosophies on how societies should build, finance, distribute and maintain housing,” the report states. “A few have even succeeded in avoiding the social and racial segregation plaguing many American cities through policies intended to build diverse, cohesive communities.”

The report states that in Austria, with the use of federal spending, the government has developed an expansive housing stock and 60% of Vienna’s citizens now live in subsidized homes.

Austrian governments also regulate rents and household spend an average of 21% of their income on housing. In comparison, the average American family spends 37% of housing every month, and the figure rises to 60% in New York City. 

They (the state) do it because they want balance in the community—that’s part of their aim,” says William Menking, a professor at the Pratt Institute and co-author of a book about the city’s housing model.

The study states that, unlike in European markets, governments in the U.S. use land use as a way to control housing. 

“Instead of expanding access to housing, American cities have exercised that control to implement policies that perpetuate segregation, deep inequalities, and sprawl,” Shareable states. 

Markets in Oregon, Minnesota, North Carolina, and California have taken measures to remove single-family housing. 

A report by the Los Angeles Times says that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed multiple bills allowing property owners to build a backyard home of at least 800-square-feet. The bill would also allow homeowners to convert a garage, office, or space room into living quarters. New legislation would allow for three homes on land previously zoned for single-family. 

Durham, North Carolina, in September amended ordinances for higher density, “undoing decades-old vestigaes” of discrimination that have prevented African-Americans from owning homes. 

Oregon’s HB 2001 went into effect on August 8, and mandates that cities with a population of more than or equal to 25,000 to allow middle-housing types on lots previously earmarked for the development of detached single-family housing. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.

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