NCHSA Washington Report

From our Friends at NCHSA:
Will Homebuilding Finally Evolve?

In this “saga of failed disruption” published last spring by the American Enterprise Institute, authors Lynn Fisher (now a senior advisor at the Federal Housing Finance Agency) and Scott Ganz tell an interesting tale of various efforts since the 1940s by “influential groups of architects, innovators, and policymakers” to improve housing affordability through construction innovation. That mostly unsuccessful history makes them skeptical that “factory production can meaningfully increase the affordability of traditional US housing.” Besides, they argue, the very things that stymie easy disruption in homebuilding — wide-ranging flexibility and customization — tend to make consumers happy.

Nevertheless, Fisher and Ganz commend the demonstrable cost savings achievable through the very standardized (and lightly regulated) manufactured housing process. And they hold out a glimmer of hope that dramatic disruptions in “the process and the product,” such as mass 3-D printing, may still yet emerge and scale.

How Gentrification Affects Original Residents
The growing realization that the revival of many American cities has tended to mostly benefit the affluent has given rise to a new wave of scholarship on gentrification. An eye-opening new paper by Quentin Brummet of the University of Chicago and Davin Reed of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia looks at what happens to the “original” neighborhood residents.

Assessing outcomes across hundreds of urban neighborhoods, the researchers find that “many original residents, including the most disadvantaged, are able to remain in gentrifying neighborhoods and share in any neighborhood improvements … and low-income neighborhoods that gentrify appear to improve along a number of dimensions known to be correlated with opportunity.” As for those who leave, voluntarily or through displacement pressures, the paper suggests “movers are not made observably worse off, and high baseline mobility means that almost all of neighborhood demographic change is explained by changes to in-migration, not direct displacement.”

Demographics and Destiny for the Republicans and Democrats
The Brookings Institution has published a report by leading demographers Bill Frey, Ruy Teixeira, and Robert Griffin rich with insights for partisans on both sides for the 2020 election cycle and beyond. They note that “white Millennial and Generation Z voters, in particular, will develop a large presence in the Republican coalition and, combined with nonwhites, will give the GOP a new look in all states — even slow-growing ones such as Wisconsin and Ohio.” Meanwhile, black voters will make up a larger share of the Democratic coalition than white noncollege voters by 2036.

Noting that in 2016 the two parties “were more divided by age, race, and education than in any prior election in modern political history,” the report suggests that “most of the effect of demographic change on future party coalitions is already baked in and will reshape party coalitions — in a sense, whether these parties like it or not.”

Stockton Williams | Executive Director

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