What is the plan for the coming housing crisis? | Editorial columns

Just over a month after the start of this pandemic, millions of Americans were either losing their jobs or going from full-time to part-time, underemployed, unemployed and, increasingly, self-employed. With housing costs being the highest fixed expense for most American households, mortgage and rent payments started to get more difficult or went unpaid.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of its declaration of a state of emergency, issued an order prohibiting evictions or foreclosures based on non-payment of rent or mortgages. Millions of Americans have struggled for some of course more than others. Many didn’t pay rent or mortgage because they couldn’t, some delayed or made partial payments because they could afford it, and unfortunately, yes, some didn’t. definitely not paid because the eviction / foreclosure was at least temporarily irrelevant.

But sooner or later, perhaps as early as July, this president will be able to end this state of emergency, and with it the ban on deportations and seizures. Talk to any banker or mortgage lender, or anyone who owns or rents rental real estate, and there’s a tsunami of evictions and foreclosures building just overseas.

Good leaders react, try to build consensus, and sometimes use the chair of the bully to unite the country and the American will. Great leaders identify problems before they reach critical mass and form a team and a plan. So what’s the plan?

The Biden administration has already proposed $ 6 trillion in spending in response to this pandemic, and other initiatives and massive federal government expansions it supports. None of that money, in a significant sense, was budgeted to address this problem.

Private landlords and apartment complex owners are certainly owed on their rent, it is impossible to manage, maintain or repay mortgage debt indefinitely without income. And with the banks and the mortgage lenders, we, the mortgage holders, have signed a contract. Deferred payments are one thing, but no one expects the financial services industries to simply cut hundreds of billions of billions of dollars in principal and interest on lost mortgages.

Potentially, if future debt is left unmanaged, it could eclipse the subprime lending collapse in 2006 that triggered a market collapse in 2008.

Yes, there are tens of billions available for emergency housing and homeless assistance, but that doesn’t mean that zoning or building permits are in place, or that neighborhoods and communities aren’t. grow back when some of the new homeless are resettled. their neighborhood, or the older apartments are rehabilitated complexes, etc … Where is the plan of what is to come?

It will require a mix of solutions – local, state and federal. Likely relaxation of local building and zoning codes to allow small houses, non-traditional constructions such as refurbished rail cars or 3D printed structures. States potentially use old military bases or empty college dorms (during the summer semester) to provide temporary shelter … and the federal government is looking for ways to incentivize the private sector and a wider range of non-profit organizations to invest in affordable and low-cost housing development offerings.

With the costs of lumber out of the picture, the way we typically build houses will also have to be reconsidered – more use of cinder blocks, lighter cement, and structural steel will all go into the mix, along with more prefabricated housing. factory built. And I already know several families and friends who are not so sure what the rest of this year will bring them on that front, even with the new security that their good health could be safe again.

Part of the American dream is homeownership, and rightly so, but it also comes with endless multiple leaves, costs, utilities, and ongoing and unforeseen expenses. For tenants, things can be even scarier. The average rent in the Atlanta subway during this house price spike is $ 1,200 per month and that’s for two bedrooms and a bathroom.

Yes, more sustainable sources of energy and multiple other aspects of the Biden agenda are worth discussing and supporting, but not the likely immediate housing needs of millions of Americans. We just can’t afford the federal government to cut that check and pay off everyone’s mortgage debt or pay the rent. You will be hearing more about this soon… some of our friends may also need help, even temporary housing. If the macro shot isn’t ready, start with your own family and surround yourself and be ready. This is the start of a plan.

Bill Crane is a senior communications strategist who started his career in broadcasting and worked in the state capital and Washington in both political parties. Contact him at [email protected]

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