Kevin McCarthy takes eight hours to fight change

The tweet attracted the attention of Ada Ferrer, a Cuban American historian and professor at New York University. “My mom a seamstress, my father a short-order cook, never owned a home,” she tweeted in response. “My husband & I bought them a small condo in Miami Beach as gentrification priced them out of rentals. Between that, elder care, college & rent help for kids, we’re still renters. Everything feels like a luxury.”

New York Times Magazine writer Francesca Mari asked on Nov. 12: “Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again?” Mari wrote about how one family learned that “the cutthroat competitiveness that once defined only a few U.S. markets (San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles) had now become standard across the country, as the median home price in small- and medium-size metropolitan areas rose by jaw-dropping levels: Boise, Idaho, 46 percent; Phoenix, 36 percent; Austin, 35 percent; Salt Lake City, 33 percent; Sacramento, 28 percent.” Homes in Austin, Texas, were selling for a median price of $536,000 in October, charting an increase of more than two times since 2011, when the median sales price was $216,000, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

New York Times writer Edgar Sandoval wrote about how Austin became one of the least affordable cities in America in a piece published on Saturday. He wrote:

“A decade ago, Austin, the capital of Texas often deemed a liberal oasis in a staunchly conservative state, was among the most affordable places to live. Now, according to a forecast prepared by Zillow, a real estate company that tracks affordability, the Austin metropolitan area is on track to become by year’s end the least affordable major metro region for homebuyers outside of California. It has already surpassed hot markets in Boston, Miami and New York City.

With an average of 180 new residents moving to the city every day in 2020, housing inventory is very low, realtors said. Multiple offers, bidding wars and blocks-long lines outside open houses are commonplace.”

In metro Atlanta, developers are building whole communities for renters. “We’ve got far more people that need a place to live than we have places to live,” John Hunt, a market analyst, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “As long as general inventory is at almost zero, you’ll continue to see anything and everything filling that space.” Jim Chapman, president of Chapman Communities and Ranch Cottages for Rent, told the newspaper building for renters means fewer last-minute changes than building custom homes tailored to buyers’ tastes. “I can put the same color granite countertops in every single home, and no one complains,” Chapman said. “There’s no individualization. Frankly, it’s fantastic.”

A report from the National Association of Realtors last Monday showed home sales at their highest peak in nine months in October. “While competition for homes has eased somewhat since the mania months earlier this year, competition is still fierce and prices are still rising at double-digit rates,” Robert Frick, a corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, told Reuters. “The problem is especially acute for lower-income buyers given prices and home availability are still skewed toward higher-priced homes.”

The median home sold for 13.1% more in October than it did a year earlier, Reuters reported of sales lingering in the $250,000-$500,000 range. “Government data last week showed a sharp decline in single-family homebuilding in October and the largest backlog of houses yet to be constructed in 15 years because of shortages of materials and labor,” Reuters journalist Lucia Mutikani wrote. 

President Joe Biden announced in September a plan to spur more affordable housing options. He included in that plan partnerships to boost rentals, manufactured housing, and two-four unit properties, as well as incentives to attract families and individuals instead of large investors.

The Biden administration planned to accomplish that by “prioritizing homeownership and limiting the sale to large investors of certain FHA-insured and HUD-owned properties, in addition to expanding and creating exclusivity periods in which only governmental entities, owner occupants, and qualified non-profit organizations are able to bid on certain FHA-insured and government-owned properties.”

The Biden administration also plans to leverage “existing federal funds to spur local action, exploring federal levers to help states and local governments reduce exclusionary zoning, and launching learning and listening sessions with local leaders.” The goal is to develop nearly 100,000 affordable homes for homeowners and renters over the next three years, and much to the apparent dismay of Republicans, it’s not the only plan Democrats have their eyes on to spur housing development.

House Republicans watched their uninspiring leader, Kevin McCarthy, spend more than eight hours opposing the Build Back Better plan aimed at combatting climate change, expanding health care, and increasing federal housing assistance, according to The New York Times.

Journalist Madeleine Ngo wrote:

“The measure includes the single largest investment in affordable housing in history, according to the Biden administration. It would provide $166 billion in housing aid, which includes building or preserving more than 1 million affordable homes and offering rental and down payment assistance.

About $65 billion would address the backlog of public housing repairs and $25 billion would go toward rental assistance, mostly through the form of housing vouchers. The plan would also invest $15 billion in the creation of new rental homes for the lowest-income households.

The proposal would also create a $10 billion grant program that would support access to affordable housing and improve mobility for low-income riders and residents of disadvantaged communities. Funds would be used to create new transit routes, expand service and repair facilities.”

And although House Democrats were able to push the $2.2 trillion “social safety net” through in a 220-to-213 vote on Nov. 19, McCarthy delayed the vote originally planned for Thursday into a new day with his antics. “Every page of all this new Washington spending shows just how irresponsible and out of touch the Democrats are to the challenges that America faces today,” McCarthy said during his speech.

What I doubt he included—and I’ll admit I don’t have eight hours and 32 minutes to devote to McCarthy—was a proposed answer to a simple question many Americans are asking themselves: Where will we live?

View responses to McCarthy’s speech below:

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