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Why affordable housing is scarce in progressive cities

By Patrick Sisson for Curbed

A challenge so-called progressive cities aren’t meeting Shaw says the housing crisis has taken on a different tone over the last few years because its impact is so widespread. What’s changed in many cities is how the middle class is being affected; now, low-income households and young adults aren’t the only ones facing long commutes or makeshift living situations due to a dearth of accessible and affordable options near jobs.

“If you’d spoken to me in 2011 and asked how Seattle is doing, I may have said it seems pretty affordable,” Shaw told Curbed. “Now, cities like Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and Austin all face similar problems as San Francisco. The nation perceived this as a problem that was only in certain cities, and now it’s spread.”

As soon as the housing market began recovering in earnest after the Great Recession, and prices really started rising in 2011 and 2012, says Shaw, cities that had restricted growth or favored single-family homes faced a reckoning. Generation Priced Out does a great job of telling the personal stories of families and tenants who can barely hang on; what’s even more damning is imaging all the other stories of those who missed opportunity because they couldn’t afford to move to big cities.

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The fealty to policies that have restricted supply and raise prices challenge the self-image of many deep blue, Democratic cities; how can you be progressive and welcoming to all if low income, people of color, students, and the middle class can’t afford a place to live?

“So many cities are seeing long-standing pro-ownership policies come face to face with growth,” he says. “It’s challenging their progressive cred. If you drive a Prius and recycle, yet don’t allow apartments to be built, and then force people to drive 50 miles each way to work and cause all that pollution, you can’t say ‘out of sight, out of mind.’”

Continue reading the full story here >>

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