Best Of: Why Housing Is So Expensive — Particularly in Blue States
Ezra is out sick, so today, we’re sharing one of our favorite conversations — with Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution whose 2022 book “Fixer Upper: How to Repair America’s Broken Housing Systems,” is perhaps the best, clearest overview of America’s housing problems to date.
In this conversation, recorded in July 2022, Schuetz breaks down the politics and policies that have contributed to America’s multiple housing crises — from housing shortages and high homelessness rates in major cities to the increasing elusiveness of homeownership for many young Americans.
We discuss why the states with the highest homelessness rates are all governed by Democrats, the roots of America’s homelessness crisis, why economists believe the U.S. gross domestic product could be over a third — a third! — higher today if American cities had built more housing, why it’s so hard to build housing where it’s needed most, the actual (and often misunderstood) causes of gentrification, why public housing has such a bad reputation in the U.S.; how progressives’ commitment to local democracy and community voice surprisingly lies at the heart of America’s housing crises, why homeownership is still the primary vehicle of wealth accumulation in America (and the toxic impact that has on our politics), what the U.S. can learn from the housing policies of countries like Germany and France, what it would take to build a better politics of housing and much more.
This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker, Kate Sinclair and Rollin Hu; mixing by Sonia Herrero and Isaac Jones; original music by Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.