Why housing is the key to a truly humane migration policy


I’ll let you in on a dirty secret about journalism: Most of what we write — good, bad, or otherwise — is as fleeting as yesterday’s rain. Readers may get most of their news in digital form rather than on paper these days, but the old adage still holds true: Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish paper.

Every now and then, a deadline book produces something of lasting value, an insight that not only illuminates today, but both the past and the future, something that helps explain why we are where we are.

Article by Sam Bowman, John Myers and Ben Southwood”Housing theory for everything“A publication a year ago in Works in Progress is just key. Tried to list every problem the Western world faces at the moment,” they wrote. From Covid to sluggish economic growth to climate change to low fertility, they had one root cause in common: “Lack of Housing: very few homes are being built where people want to live.”

Their argument was as simple as it was true: As long as the supply of housing remains constrained in the most economically productive cities in the United States, so will the country’s potential. Whatever the United States wants to do — solve climate change, reduce economic inequality, make it easier to have as many children as they want — a solution to the long-running housing problem must come first. Everything else was just hot air.

Once you begin to understand the housing theory of everything, you begin to see it everywhere. Including a wealthy little island off the coast of Massachusetts called Martha’s Vineyard where last week Dozens of migrants were shipped by plane Written by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis In a ploy as inhuman as it was, unfortunately, Possibly politically effective For them with many Republican voters.

Passion versus politics

Make no mistake, what DeSantis and other Republican state governors like Greg Abbott of Texas do when they send thousands of immigrants into Democratic-led cities far from the border — like some Twitter trolling done in real life, with real people — is almost entirely for their political glory. DeSantis Warm welcome Republican voters at a political event in Kansas on Sunday.

If DeSantis believed that most Democratic citizens of Martha’s Vineyard would respond to his campaign by treating immigrants who arrived on their island the way he does, the governor was wrong. immigrants who fled Venezuela, A warm welcome from the locals before they were voluntarily send onwards to a military base for humanitarian support.

As the title of an article by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine put itDeSantis tries to prove that liberals hate immigrants as much as he does, and fails.

But if people in Martha’s Vineyard, New York City, or Washington, D.C., obviously do not hate immigrants and will gather to welcome humans who are innocent pawns in a political game, that does not mean that they will put weight behind the policies that are really needed to support the masses of immigrants who want to come to United States for a better life.

That’s because perhaps the number one thing immigrants — and for that reason, a lot of American citizens, too — need is more housing in cities that have jobs. And no matter what the leaders of those deep blue cities might say when DeSantis or Abbott drops a bus or plane load of immigrants on their doorstep, they look unprepared to hand it over — and many of their constituents seem to feel the same.

Refugees are welcome here – they will have nowhere to live

On Martha’s Vineyard, the problem of affordable housing is so acute that the only hospital with an emergency room on the island was operating with a quarter of its vacant positions, According to the Washington Post,. When the hospital’s CEO offered 19 jobs to health care workers in January, every one was turned down, largely because even doctors couldn’t find a year-round place to live.

Or take New York City, which I call home and where you can often see “Refugees Welcome” signs on pretty brownstone windows, along with Publications denouncing a new development. Between 2000 and 2020, New York Expanded by more than 800,000 residentsHowever, less than 450,000 new housing units and single family homes were built during that period. Not surprisingly, in May, the average rent in Manhattan was receipt Record $4000 – although if you’re willing to do it in Brooklyn, you can get $3,250.

And San Francisco? Well, San Francisco leaders seem to treat housing construction like golf, where the idea is to get as low as possible; Societal opposition and restrictive regulations mean that the city on the road To build only 3,000 housing units this year, the average building cost is The world’s highest per square foot. (Albeit somehow, San Francisco Still more new housing units are approved per 1,000 residents between 2010 and 2019 compared to New York.)

The worst of the cities are the many surrounding suburbs. In suburban counties from Nassau and Westchester outside New York to commuter towns around Boston, fewer housing units per 1,000 residents have been added in the past decade than in New York City itself. This in turn Pushing low-income residents out of jobswhich increases the weight of economic growth.

As The Housing Theory of Everything has shown, even as everything from TVs to cars to refrigerators has become cheaper to buy on an hourly basis over the past 50 years, housing in big cities has become much more expensive. As a result, people who are not lucky or privileged enough to buy in time are forced to spend more and more of their family budget if they want to live in New York, Boston or San Francisco.

Rise to the level of discourse

It is true that the United States faces a border crisis. An average of 8,500 migrants and asylum seekers intersect with officials every day, What is the name Axios? “A strikingly large number,” and cities along the border Struggling to deal with the flow.

It is also true that people will keep coming. Between economic factors, the pressure of climate change, and the pursuit of safety, the influx of migrants from the south It will likely only increase In the coming years and decades.

Republican officials have their own solution to this challenge: to try to stem the flow at the border in the harshest way possible, and to stir up the political fallout while doing so. If progressives are to live up to their rhetoric, they need to support policies that will build the supply of housing needed to absorb the influx of newcomers—and in doing so, help reduce the prohibitive cost of living that is holding back the old population as well.

Otherwise, refugees and immigrants may be welcome – but they will not be welcome to stay.

A version of this story was initially published in the Future Perfect newsletter. Register here to subscribe!



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