Lack of affordable housing on both coasts

Seattle and Boston are on opposite coasts but they share a common concern — a lack of affordable housing. And not just a lack of affordable housing for lower income residents. Each city is facing a severe affordable housing shortage for low and middle income residents.

As the Post-Intelligencer reports, the median prices for a house in Seattle was about $450,000 and $290,000 for a condo, while the typical single person in Seattle earned enough to buy a home for just under $200,000. Many median-income workers choose to buy and commute rather than rent and hour commutes each are becoming more and more common and today, only 49 percent of Seattle’s workforce lives in the city.

Boston is looking for ways to build affordable housing lost to the free market. Robert Kuttner writes in the Boston Globe, that the $60 billion of federal money spent between 1965 and 1990 to subsidize private developers to build affordable housing in Boston is now being squandered since there were no requirements to keep the units affordable in perpetuity. Once the initial federal loan is paid off, developers/owners are free to sell or rent the housing to the highest bidder. Consequently, the affordable housing built with at taxpayer support is now becoming a windfall profit for the developer/owner.

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