The Irony: The Conservative American State, Texas, Is Showing How To Deal With Housing Crisisis — By Building Cheap Housing

Oz Zeren
6 min readMar 29, 2024
The state must provide housing (image licensed to the author)

The housing crisis in the US is at the level of a calamity:

Researchers examined the median home prices last year for roughly 575 U.S. counties and found that home prices in 99% of those areas are beyond the reach of the average income earner, who makes $71,214 a year, according to ATTOM.

Homes “unaffordable” in 99% of nation for average American

Renting is not a way out of this disaster either:

The United States experienced a dramatic 12% increase in homelessness to its highest reported level as soaring rents and a decline in coronavirus pandemic assistance combined to put housing out of reach for more Americans, federal officials said Friday.

US Homelessness Hits Highest Reported Level as Rents Soar, Pandemic Aid Lapses

You can’t err in thinking that the homelessness would be due to drugs, addictions, delinquency, or other peripheral reasons either:

Studies show that 24 the majority of American adults experiencing homelessness are employed. In New York, long-term studies 25 have found close to half of single adults and nearly 40% of families in homeless shelters earn income from employment. In fact, many of our unhoused neighbors have shared stories of working multiple part-time or odd jobs at once while still being unable to find stable housing.

Most homeless Americans have a job — often more than one.

The US is now a country where people end up homeless with multiple jobs.

In this backdrop, endless ‘dialogue’ about the ‘housing crisis’ is being made by those who own and run the economy. A lot of talk about ‘investment’, ‘revitalizing the real estate sector’, and similar ‘economy-oriented’ discourse continues, without solving absolutely anything.

There’s No Solution Because They Don’t Want To Solve Anything

Housing scarcity pushes housing prices and rents up. This helps those who ‘invest’ in real estate reap immense profits at the expense of their own people and great cost to their society.

If you push people to a position in which they will have to work three jobs to afford rent through scarcity, not only the rental income will skyrocket, but also housing prices. And the sociopaths who profit from this suffering will make immense heaps of imaginary, useless numeric wealth.

As a result, sociopaths who govern the economic policy are doing everything in their power to push their people to homelessness for maximum profit — on an industrial scale:

By last March (the most recent data available), hedge funds accounted for 27% of all single-family home purchases in the United States.

Wall Street hedge funds are buying whole neighborhoods, driving up home prices

The capital is literally building actual fiefs by buying up entire neighborhoods, in the middle of the 21st century.

But There Is An Anomaly In The South — And The Incumbent Capital Doesn’t Like It

The most ironic development is what the economically conservative state of Texas is doing:

But Austin — and Texas more generally — has defied the narrative that skyrocketing housing costs are a problem from hell that people just have to accept. In response to rent increases, the Texas capital experimented with the uncommon strategy of actually building enough homes for people to live in. This year, Austin is expected to add more apartment units as a share of its existing inventory than any other city in the country. Again as a share of existing inventory, Austin is adding homes more than twice as fast as the national average and nearly nine times faster than San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. (You read that right: nine times faster.)

The results are spectacular for renters and buyers. The surge in housing supply, alongside declining inbound domestic migration, has led to falling rents and home prices across the city. Austin rents have come down 7 percent in the past year.

America’s Magical Thinking About Housing

Texas is on a spree of building cheap housing. This is bringing down both home prices and rents. People can afford to rent or buy homes. One would think that this is a good thing — however…

“Once America’s Hottest Housing Market, Austin Is Running in Reverse,” announced the headline of the top story on the WSJ website on Monday. The article illustrated “Austin’s recent downswing” and its “glut of luxury apartment buildings” with photographs of abandoned downtown plazas, as if the fastest-growing city of the 2010s had been suddenly hollowed out by a plague and left to zombies and tumbleweeds.

This is what the voice of the ruling class thinks about what’s happening in Texas.

Housing being scarce and expensive while people are homeless is a good thing. It’s ‘going forward’. People being homeless while ‘investors’ reaping more imaginary numeric wealth is a good thing. People being able to afford homes while the private sociopaths can’t maximize their profits? A bad thing…

That’s what the sociopathic ruling class thinks about their people being homeless. The referenced article is very forgiving — it calls this ‘magical’ thinking. It takes it as a mistake that the ruling class makes while trying to maximize profits and avoid homelessness at the same time.

That’s incorrect.

There is no mistake, there is no magical thinking. The ruling class does not care about what happens to the people. If dozens of millions of people were chronically homeless and 100 million Americans were effectively homeless, they would consider that to be a very good thing as this would push up the real estate market and the imaginary wealth that rides on it to the stratosphere.

They don’t like what’s happening in Texas and they can easily swoop in with their hoards of cash and buy up entire neighborhoods that are being built in Texas to introduce scarcity to address this ‘anomaly’. They would profit immensely in the process. The local government and capital in Texas wouldn’t be able to stop them.

They did these things before. There is nothing that is stopping them from doing it again. Private profiteers don’t stop at anything as long as there isn’t anybody stopping them.

That’s Why Housing Must Be Considered Infrastructure And Provided By The State To A Large Extent

People’s livelihoods must not be left to the mercy of private profiteers. Housing is a fundamental human necessity and it’s a societal infrastructure. If it’s failing like this, the only result from that would be social collapse.

Not that the sociopaths would mind. In the religion of free market economics, you maximize your short-term profit at any cost and what happens afterward is “someone else’s problem”.

That’s an actual magical thinking, of course. Because there’s no escaping a social collapse. The rise of reactionary populism will not spare anyone, and the first ones to be in its crosshairs are such neoliberal profiteers.

To avoid the social apocalypse that is on the horizon, immediate measures must be taken. The ‘free market’ type neoliberals who are currently in control of the Federal government will not lift their fingers to do anything about this so that they can avoid hampering corporate profits. “Speaking to the issues” of the people and “promising to do as the first thing if reelected” as some urge them to do won’t avail. They won’t do those, and even if they did, it would still be performative politics and empty promises just like what they did after winning the 2020 election. The people are fed up with them.

Therefore, the state governments must take action to build and provide housing to their people.

Unlike Texas, they must provide housing through the hand of the state so that it can actually happen instead of waiting for private profiteers to see reason or accept making a little less profit and build housing for the people — which, they won’t. The states must not take the route of making this a means for helping corporations profit more through subsidies, incentives, and whatnot — because that way, it would go the route of projects like California’s fast train and ‘Build Back Better’ — an environment in which private contractors make immense profits as nothing gets done. Housing is not like fast trains or remote infrastructure projects.

Housing is a critical necessity for the people and the only way to ensure that critical needs like food, housing, and education are delivered to the people is to make sure that they are guaranteed by the state without private profiteers having any control over the matter. The private sector must be supplementary to the state when it comes to critical goods and services.

We can’t imagine privatizing the military and expecting private profiteers to ‘provide quality, affordable defense services to those who can afford them’. It would be crazy. Handing over fundamental necessities like housing to private profiteers and expecting them to not destroy society is just as crazy.

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Oz Zeren

Writing for a better future. I work in Tech. I like Philosophy, History, Computers, Gaming, the Internet. I’m excited about the Creator Economy, Web 3.0, DAOs.