Reduce the housing shortage by . . . making home ownership more costly???

One wonders whether the San Diego City Council has ever heard the expression, “a contradiction in terms”.  Its housing policy appears to exemplify it.

A San Diego committee took a preliminary step Wednesday toward placing a $900 million housing bond on the November 2020 ballot.

. . .

The measure was designed to help San Diego secure a greater share of state money devoted to homelessness and affordable housing by providing local matching funds typically required for such assistance.

Supporters say evidence the bond is necessary includes city estimates that San Diego needs more than 5,400 additional housing units geared for homeless people.

Councilman Mark Kersey, who voted “no” along with Councilman Chris Cate, said the subsidized housing units the bond would pay for are too expensive for him to be comfortable asking voters to pay higher property taxes.

He said the average cost for a subsidized unit is typically higher than $400,000.

“You’re now asking San Diegans to subsidize the construction of units that are nicer and more expensive than the ones they themselves live in,” he said. “I think this is going to be a tough sell.”

There’s more at the link.

So, in a city where there’s already a shortage of affordable housing, you plan to make housing less affordable, by making it more expensive to own, by raising property taxes?  Verily, the mind doth boggle . . .

As for a cost of $400,000 per subsidized housing unit, that’s just plain insane!  What are you building for the homeless – five-star catered accommodation?  There’s an old saying that “beggars can’t be choosers”.  By all means provide basic accommodation, but luxury housing?  Why the hell should the city – or any other government entity – have to provide that?  This is touchy-feely do-goodism gone mad!

I think the “Conestoga hut” approach is a much more effective first step – and vastly more economical.

You can read more about Conestoga huts here.  They seem like an outstanding idea, and at $2,500 apiece, you can buy 160 of them for the cost of one of the subsidized housing units being proposed in San Diego!  Sure, there are issues of sanitation, etc. to be sorted out, but communal bathrooms can be erected at a very reasonable cost per user, and the huts can be erected on vacant lots and/or outside town, if necessary.  Feeding arrangements, etc. are a matter of organization.  Having worked with the homeless in South Africa, and being familiar with the challenges involved, there would be no insurmountable problems that I can see in setting up a Conestoga Hut village at relatively low cost.

Proponents of a San Diego-style approach will doubtless argue that the Conestoga Hut solution is short-term only, and can’t compare to a permanent home.  They’re right – but what makes it a city government’s problem to provide permanent homes?  Why should our taxes pay for other people’s housing, except on an emergency or short-term basis?  I’m certainly not going to tolerate that where I live, and I’ll apply all my energy, if necessary, to defeating any politician who advocates it.  Besides, if it comes to that, providing a new Conestoga hut every two to three years to a permanent resident is still a damned sight cheaper than other alternatives – and one could always build them out of longer-lasting, more durable materials, for not much greater expense.

This entire nation is built upon individual responsibility, not communal.  Sure, there are those who will never be able to exercise much in the way of individual responsibility, due to illness, or accident, or whatever;  and we should certainly help them.  That’s part of being socially responsible, and it’s why I’ve volunteered to help many community efforts (including helping the homeless) over the years.  Nevertheless, the help we provide should be affordable and sustainable.  $400,000 “free” (i.e. taxpayer-funded) housing units are neither!

Peter

13 comments

  1. More than likely that the proponents of this measure have connections with the builders or related trades. Follow the money!

    Also, the problem with building cheap housing such as they are pushing is that they don’t last, and anything intended for this type of occupant needs to be constructed to a VERY high level of quality, to have any sort of usable life expectancy. (The builders know that, of course) Frankly, they need to be a poured concrete structure, so they are not easily damaged by the typical resident they are envisioned for.

  2. Better yet, don’t make your city, county, state a vacation destination for the homeless to begin with.

    As to any tax revenue generated, it will be siphoned off for ‘other purposes’ (like covering the pension liabilities, lining the pockets of various companies that have relations with city officials, and so forth) long before any actual reasons for the tax are paid for. Because that is the way of local tax.

    Not to mention, the proposers are not serious about solving the homeless issue. They only see the homeless as yet another way to steal money from people.

    When are Californians going to Proposition 13 again, or just, really, rise up in revolt against the stupidity? Come on, Bear Staters, quit complaining, quit bowing your heads to your masters and stand up for yourselves. (Jiminy Crickets, right now Com China is looking like a better place to live than much of California… At least there they’ve laid out all the rules openly, and there’s no expectation that they won’t change the rules any way they want…)

  3. And if you want a more permanent shelter, a 10′ container runs about the same cost as the conestoga, and only requires a few modifications, like a window and a door, to make them livable. And they’re easy to move, they don’t burn easily, they can be recycled, you can seal them with the homeless inside and ship them to Com China…

  4. Just as an off the cuff calculation, i would venture that 99.9% of all “homeless” are in those circumstances by choice.

    When I was in single digit age my father (a man who had lived through the so-called Great Depression) would point to the area and identify it as “Skid row” and the denizens as bums and “reprobates” who did not want to work. They were not allowed to loiter; the police would give them the “bum’s rush”. Vagrancy laws were normative and legal until the communist dialectic at SCOTUS level declared them off the books.

    I have zero interest in subsidizing bums. I prefer the wisdom found here: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
    We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive…Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.”

    Life obtains more of what it subsidizes and less of what it penalizes. Require them to go hungry as an act of love: “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.”

  5. ” . . . the help we provide should be affordable and sustainable . . .”

    And if at all possible *voluntary*. Of course, areas like this tend to make it extremely difficult to help the homeless on a voluntary basis. After all, how can any non-governmental approved and directed program be supposed to know the ‘right’ way to help the distressed?

  6. Come on, ‘put a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum!’ Yeah, it’s only $400K per bum now for housing, but that’s just the beginning because they’re all going to enroll for free educational subsidies at the nearest institution of higher learning and who would flunk a struggling student who has an endless subsidy of cash? Then there are food allowances, transportation subsidies, free cradle to grave Cadillac medical care, dental and psych care. What a deal. Californians are stupid enough to vote for it.

  7. Vote fraud is rampant in this one-party state. Whatever the donks want passed gets passed, and the people be damned.
    Too, Our “Sanctuary State” is home to millions of foreign nationals who have no legal right to be here at all. Let’s see- ten million plus illegal aliens, AND a housing shortage. Could there be a correlation?

    JWM

  8. That is a very interesting idea with the huts. I like it. One has to take things in steps sometimes. I mean, from a tent or a mere blanket on the street to a penthouse in one fell swoop is absurd. But from a tent to one of these huts, then to a small apartment like the one I used to live in during graduate school, then to a nicer apartement and so on, becoming more capable at life at each step of the way – this is a sensible path, I think. These Conestoga huts could be a good way to bridge the gap between street life and something more dignified or mainstream.

    Sometimes I wonder how close I was to being homeless back then – maybe closer than I realized. Honestly, I think my credit rating was the only thing that was saving me for a little while there.

  9. Tomorrow I can send you plans to build a 140 ft sq temp house for $900 using materials sourced from Home Depot. The design was done by a Sr. Engineering Capstone design class at Auburn University. It can be mass produced for less. The engineering sample has been sitting in my side yard since April and has survived a very wet spring, a hotter than the surface of the sun summer and the cold blast from hell. It will sleep 4 has a raised floor that will support 4 300 pounders doing jumping jacks. Solving the housing crisis will not take much more than getting government out of the way.

  10. @Spin: I’d be seriously interested to see those plans. My e-mail address is in the blog sidebar, under “About Me & Contact Info”. If the class or professor at Auburn wants to publicize it, I’ll gladly do a blog article about it. Thanks!

  11. As multiply pointed out, this is homeless farming. And those who do not or cannot vote will be getting help in that area too. And they will be concentrated for the convenience of the vote harvesters.

  12. You might get a homeless man off the street for a week, but he will revert. It’s like a drug for the mentally impaired. Aside from shipping the problem out of your jurisdiction and or incarceration ????

  13. Most homeless are worthless parasites even if they not causing problems. There may be some exceptions of course, but I would guess most like to live that way and have problems like drugs or alcohol and maybe even a criminal record to where even McDonald’s would not hire them. Even they could get a $10 or $12 per hour job and stay with it, they would be crippled by housing cost alone and unable to support themselves.

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