Ending Discrimination Would “Supercharge the Economy.”

…if you could give me one thing to do to supercharge the economy, I would say, end discrimination across the American economy. Discrimination is holding back our economy. It’s holding back our middle class.

Title in large red block letters against plain off-white background: The Riches of This Land: The story of what went wrong and how to get it back. Author Jim Tankersly

This is the conclusion of journalist Jim Tankersley, who covers economics and tax policy and recently published The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True History of America’s Middle Class.

He has spent over a decade studying the American middle class; how it became a symbol of the American Dream following World War II, how the middle class built one of the world’s most powerful economies, and how powerful interests undermined the gains of the working class. From the 1950s through the 80s, middle-class households with a single income earner could afford a home, car, health care, a college education…even vacations and retirement savings.

The erosion of the middle class means that today, most full-time workers are underwater as full-time work too often leaves many in poverty and debt. At the start of 2021, analysis indicates the extended pandemic and recession have resulted in the Sharpest Rise in Poverty Rate in More Than 50 Years. 

…if you were to design a recession to hurt most the people who have most helped to build the American middle class, you would design basically this one.

Tankersley advocates for policies that help those people responsible for the growth and productivity of the middle class from the 50s through the 80s, which he describes as, “women of all races…men of color and immigrants.” We hear time and again that these are the workers hurt most in the current recession. Women are the default caregivers when schools and child care centers are closed; they are most likely to care for elderly parents, and they the most likely to lose employment opportunities or promotions as a result.

Next to women, people of color and immigrants—often serving as essential workers—have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the lack of health care and sick leave, and the cascading impacts on employment options. This follows a steady decline in purchasing power and stability over the past 40 years.

This perspective draws the same conclusion as those pursuing economic resilience from a fair housing approach, which recognizes the access to opportunity afforded by housing types and price points distributed across regions, communities and neighborhoods. When everyone has access to stable housing and essential community assets, we all benefit from better overall health outcomes, increased productivity, and more people moving from public assistance to family supporting, gainful employment.

In his interview with Fresh Air co-host Dave Davies, Tankersley notes that, “…if you could reduce discrimination across the economy and invest in each other’s success, then we really could see this upward flow of talent and this boom of job creation and growth.”

 

Housing Toolbox for Western Policymakers (Mostly Idaho)

(Created for housing and community stakeholders by Erik Kingston, PCED, IHFA’s Housing Resources Coordinator | Links to presentations below)

Expanding housing choices has benefits far beyond fair housing compliance; housing diversity is equally important for community and economic development strategies. Housing types and price points that reflect the needs and means of community residents support a more stable labor force and educational system, reduce social costs of poverty, and lead to economic prosperity.

Housing that is affordable to a range of incomes serves as a perpetual wage subsidy to local employers.

Housing can be made affordable either by increasing wages or reducing the net costs of housing, which are often influenced by transportation, energy, land, construction, regulatory and financing factors. In some rural Idaho communities, workers must often commute long distances to find housing within their budget, while the cost to heat or cool inefficient housing can exceed rent. So we created the ‘HUT (Housing + Utilities +Transportation) Index’ to hint at real-world cost considerations.

We hope to update and expand these resources to be more useful to local and state policy makers and housing stakeholders. This data can help inform a larger statewide housing needs assessment and resource allocation process. See also “What Every City and County Needs to Know’ for additional information from the 2011 Analysis of Impediments.

Perspectives on housing markets and needs assessment

County data sets for demographics, poverty and housing/transportation cost burden.

*The contractor for the 2014 version based ‘cost-burden’ data on the American Community Survey, while the contractor for the 2018 release used cost-burden estimates from HAMFI and CHAS data, a subset of the ACS estimate.

Idaho Analysis of Impediments / Assessment of Fair Housing

U.S. housing market: impressions, impacts and implications

Housing Market Challenges

Affordability matters

Housing and Transportation: location-based costs

Tiny Houses and Personal Shelters: implications and opportunities for housing, planning and economic development professionals


Presentations

NEW! 2020 Presentations

Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute

Public Subsidy to Private Equity: Measuring the Social Costs of Housing Speculation

Small Towns, Big Change: Civic Engagement and Rural Resilience | WeCAN team

2019 Presentations

10/2019 APA Idaho Chapter – Twin Falls, ID

The Rural Housing & Homelessness Puzzle

Twilight Zoning

7/2019 NW Community Development Institute

2019 Housing as a Second Language

6/2019 Association of Idaho Cities

Housing and Community_Planning for the Future

Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute

Housing and Community_Designing for the Future


2017 Presentations

10/2017 Idaho Chapter/APA Conference Presentations

Ghost Cities

Sandpoint Short Term Rentals

Links to resources:

2017 NW Community Development Institute

Housing as a Second Language (2017 update)

Related stories and links

2017 Association of Idaho Cities Conference

Housing Markets: Essential Trends and Strategies


2016 Materials

10/2016 Idaho Chapter/APA Conference Presentations

Next Steps for Small-Footprint Housing

Resources

Communities for Life: Aging-in-Place

Resources

The Changing Face of Fair Housing: Assessment of Fair Housing

Resources

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (presentation by BBC Research and Consulting)


Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

2016 NW CDI Course—Third Year: Housing as a Second Language