letter to the editor

Cause of housing shortage is a false narrative

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 3:15pm

Dear Editor:

The idea that the housing shortage in Maine or the USA is caused by housing underproduction is a well-crafted narrative but historical data shows that the cause of the housing shortage is not the underproduction of housing needed for residential living and so one must ask why and how this narrative became the basis of LD 2003 (HP 1489), that robs Maine communities of their constitutional Home Rule right to decide matters local and municipal in character.

The under-production myth is propagated with statements like this one by Fannie May “After the Great Recession, new home construction dropped like a stone. Fewer new homes were built in the 10 years that ended 2018 than in any decade since the 1960s”

The Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009 was caused by the subprime mortgage bubble burst, during that time, Airbnb was born.

According to Wikipedia, between 2010 and 2020 the U.S. population increased by 22,703,743

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average family consisted of 3.13 persons in 2021.

Divide the population increase (22,703,743) by household size (3.13) and 7,253,592 new houses were needed per population growth in the 2010-2020 decade.

Statistica reports that 6.9 million homes were built between 2010 and 2019 making a shortage of 353,592 new homes built.

There was a population increase of 32,712,033 in the previous decade.

The average household size was the same in both decades so population growth (32,712,033) divided by 3.13 produced a need for 10,451,128 houses to be built in the 2000-2010 decade but Statistica reports that 14,560,000 new homes were built during that decade, spurred by subprime mortgages and deregulated financial markets, causing a surplus of 4,108,872 new homes built in in 2000-2010 far exceeding the 353,592 shortage of homes built during 2010-2019.

Between 1950 and 2020 the population increased by 180,123,483 creating a need for 57,547,438 new homes. According to Statistica between 1950 and 2019 78,030,000 new homes were built giving a surplus of 20,482,562 new homes built, leaving room for seasonal and vacation homes, not counting the short-term rental industry that has exploded since 2008.

Susan Mackenzie Andersen