Breadcrumb

Addressing the Housing Crisis

Addressing the Housing Crisis (with Bree Lang)

In this episode, Professor of Economics Dr. Bree Lang talks with students from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about Low-Income Housing and the Housing Crisis.

 
FEATURING Bree Lang
October 15th, 2021

36 MINUTES AND 24 SECONDS

 


In this episode, Professor of Economics Dr. Bree Lang talks with students from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about Low-Income Housing and the Housing Crisis.

About Bree Lang:

Bree Lang is an economics professor at the University of California, Riverside. Her research areas include urban economics, taxation, subsidized housing, and public finance.

Learn more about Bree Lang via https://sites.google.com/site/breejoneslang/ 

Podcast Highlights:

“The US Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordability as someone who is spending 30 percent or less of their income on housing. And if you look in California in particular, in the mid-2010s, 80 percent of households were spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. In the mid-2000s, 30% of people were spending over 50% of their income on rent.”

-       Bree Lang on the severity of the housing crisis and its effect on families. 

“If I want to be optimistic for just one moment, I think that COVID has also shined a light on a lot of these root problems where we are talking about kind of this inequality and upward mobility. I think that we're more likely to be having conversations about those big picture issues.”

-       Bree Lang on the topic of COVID-19 and its impact on the discussion surrounding the housing crisis.

“I think it's important to be open-minded about these things and to be willing to listen to people so that we can come to a solution that's going to work for everybody.”

-       Bree Lang on the topic of solving the housing crisis.

Guest:

Dr. Bree Lang (Professor of Economics)

Interviewers:

Kevin Karami (UCR Public Policy Major, Dean’s Chief Ambassador)

Raiyan Kalam (UCR Public Policy Major, Dean’s Ambassador)

Music by:

C Codaine

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Xylo-Ziko/Minimal_1625

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Xylo-Ziko/Phase

Commercial Links:

https://spp.ucr.edu/ba-mpp

https://spp.ucr.edu/mpp

This is a production of the UCR School of Public Policy: https://spp.ucr.edu/

Subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss an episode. Learn more about the series and other episodes via https://spp.ucr.edu/podcast.

Addressing the Housing Crisis (with Bree Lang)

  • Addressing the Housing Crisis (with Bree Lang)

     

    Introduction:Welcome to policy chats, the official podcast of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. I'm your host, Kevin Karami. Join me and my classmates as we learn about potential policy solutions for today's biggest societal challenges. Joining us today is Professor of Economics, Dr. Bree Lang. My fellow classmate Raiyan Kalam and I chatted with her about low-income housing. 

     

    Kevin Karami: Dr. Lang is an economics professor at UC Riverside. Her research areas include public finance and urban and labor economics. Thank you for joining us today, Dr. Lane. 

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: Thank you for having me. 

     

    Kevin Karami: We have a lot to talk about on this topic. It's a really major topic that affects a lot of our students and a lot of our audience. So I wanted to ask a very big and wide general first question. So what are some of the root causes of the housing crisis? 

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: So because I'm an economist, I have a tendency to think of everything in demand side and supply side. So basically everything I talk about today is going to be split up that way. So you can think, let me, the root causes of the affordability crisis are not perfectly known. But we have some basic ideas. You know, we can talk about the big picture and then hopefully we can understand more about the little picture as we get going. So if I start on the demand side, a simple thing to say is that people, their incomes are not high enough as they aren't as high as housing prices. So over the last 15, 20 years, incomes haven't been growing, especially the median income hasn't been growing nearly as fast as housing prices. I found a stat that it was in the last 10 years, median income is about up 30 percent, but housing prices have gone up 70%. And we focus on the median there because that doesn't mean that people haven't been making more money. There's people at the top of the income distribution making a lot more money. And when you look at the median, they're just a big chunk of people whose incomes have stagnated. So one thing to recognize from this is that when you have folks who are spending a big portion of their income on housing, means it's taking away money from everything else, puts them in this really unstable situation where if they have one financial shock, now they can't afford really important things in their, in their life. So the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, they define affordability as someone who is spending 30 percent or less of their income on housing. And if you look in California in particular, in the mid 2010s, 80 percent of households were spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Like it's a huge number of people and something like I have it written down 30% of people, this is a mid 2000s, were spending over 50% of their income on rent. So it's just like this thing where you have lower incomes and higher housing prices. And so you just have folks really struggling to find a place that isn't going to knock them out financially every month. So that's the demand side. And then the supply side really talks about why housing is so expensive. And we don't totally know, we just know that construction costs for housing have been going up. It could be, there's a lot of talk in the economics field, but this is caused by regulations. So cities or states require housing to use certain types of materials or environmental or meet environmental standards. That's gonna make things more expensive, even zoning regulations. People have found that when, when land is owned a certain way, it can increase housing prices by restricting the number of units that are to be built. So it's like low density zoning is going to reduce the number of units that are going to be built. Something interesting about all of this is that there's actually like it. There are studies on this, there's this thing you can think of it like frictional housing vacancy. So like housing market needs to have a certain number of vacant units that allow people to sort of switch between units. Like there should always be a certain number of vacant units. But there are studies that show that there's like 5 million extra vacant units floating around. So the key is that it's not, the units aren't there, right? Units exist and there are people that need units, but these units for some reason are not desirable or they're not being used by the people who need them. And that could be because they rent for too much money. Or it could be because maybe they're all out in the middle of the desert somewhere where people don't want to live. Or maybe they're really low quality and people aren't willing to live in these low quality units or maybe they're not even inhabitable. Well, they should, they have to be inhabitable, but they're not, they're not what people want. So there's sort of this thing going on there. There's a good chance a lot of these vacant units are, are just too expensive. And that goes to this idea that housing developers, people who own housing, are just not willing to produce housing and rent them at these lower levels. And that might be because there's always an opportunity for them to do something more profitable with it. So that, that sort of sums up there. On the demand side, not an incomes are too low and on the supply side, housing is just getting more expensive. 

     

    Raiyan Kalam: So Dr. Lang, I understand that there are issues going on both in the demand and the supply side. And there are houses technically available to people, although. People wouldn't necessarily try to get the most bang for their buck. And what would you say the main reason so low-income housing needs to be overseen by more investment from our government. Or would more investment from our government even help curtail the issue at all? Or would it just exacerbate the problem? 

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: So it's likely, it's likely that government investment is needed. It's not that the government isn't investing in housing right now. They put a huge amount of money into it. We, unfortunately, we don't have a great idea of how much better the situation is because of the government funding versus, versus a world where there was zero government funding. We don't know what that world looks like. It's likely, I think that everybody would agree that it's likely better. But we don't totally know and that's part of the issue when we talk about what types of policies we should be doing. This is something that economists are doing. This type of research I do. We're trying really hard to say the government is putting money into these programs. What are the positives and benefits from each of these programs? Excuse me, the positives and negatives, the benefits and the cost of each of these programs. And how can we shift around the money to make sure we're using it the most as effectively as possible. But again, you know, I can give you some, some,  you know,  thoughts about what's good and what's bad about each program. I, I, it's hard for me to instantly say the government just needs to increase funding like instantly. Because, and this is my own bias coming out. I think there are ways that the government can maybe already shift around some of the funding and make improvements. And it's I think it would be very beneficial to sort of refine where the money goes to the most effective places before we ramp up the money. Because once the money gets ramped up into places that are not super effective, then it's really hard to pull them out at that point. So, um, and I know the money needs to get going like it needs to go, but I think that a lot of attention needs to be paid to where to put it in the most efficient place. 

     

    Kevin Karami: Thank you for that answer, Dr. Lang. I think it's really interesting when, you know, when we talk about these kinds of issues and specifically in government assistance, immediately, a lot of people will immediately assume that the answer is increase funding. But clearly, as you've said, there's more to it than that. And while increasing, funding may actually be a potential solution, it's not as simple as just funneling money to it. So as a follow-up to this kind of topic that we've begun talking about. I want to point out that a lot of research, recent reports indicate that we need nearly 7 million more affordable housing units for low-income families. So is the shortage of housing that families will actually use growing larger. And if so, why? 

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: So? I mean, I think it is, I don't have, you know, current statistics, but I believe it is still growing. And I think the reasons it is of the same reasons that I sort of outlined in the root causes is that there is inequality and inequality I think that we've started to focus more on this inequality situation. And we're started saying like Look, we've got to figure out how to make sure that the folks on the bottom part of the income distribution aren't just left behind because this housing issue for them is a big deal. Like the fact that they're funneling all this money into housing and they're always on the edge of their financial resources, means that they're not able to invest in other things. So they're just stuck, they're stuck down in here. And it's sort of like we always think that in the United States people will be able to just work hard and get themselves out. And I think that this housing crisis really contributes to folks working hard and staying where they are because they're just always having to funnel so much money to it. So I think that that is something that isn't being it's not being totally remedied right now. I think there's more attention being paid to it, but I don't think it's being remedied right now. And then the cost situation is that housing costs have been increasing, especially since, since the recession in 2008. Housing costs have just been going up. When I say that, I say housing construction costs and that's driving a lot of the prices that we see on the backend when they come out and they go up for rent and go up for sale. Because these things are just getting more expensive to build. Whether it again, whether it's regulations or whether it's zoning, or whether it's just a shortage in the number of or the amount of space we have available. And it's getting dedicated to things that are not necessarily going to help this affordability crisis. Those two things are just continuing to happen. And throwing money at those things isn't going to fix those root causes. The best we're trying to do is just sort of get money to someone who could use it. And there'll need to be some sort of a bigger discussion about what's going on in housing construction and what's going on in wealth inequality in order to fix those root causes. And in the meantime, we're sort of just kind of doing a stopgap to make sure folks can be how housed.

     

    Commercial:  The UC Riverside School of Public Policy is excited to announce the launch in fall of 2022 of its new combined BA and Master of Public Policy program. As the only such program offered exclusively within a public policy school in the entire UC system. The UCR, BA MPP, will allow public policy students to complete both their public policy major and graduate studies in five years. Learn more at SPP.UCR.EDU/BA-MPP. For more information. You can also find the link in our show notes. 

     

    Raiyan Kalam: Thank you for your answer. I actually really like that part where you said, we need to get money to people where they need it and they could actually use it. And I know you mentioned this briefly in your answer. But as far as families working to get out of this bracket per say and, and to have money left over to do other things or invest. And the government already funneling so much money into this to assist a crisis. What would you say? What kind of government assistance for low-income families are like? What are they receiving and what changes need to be made to the system so that the money is being better allocated?

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: So I'll  kinda start at the end of that question and move backwards. The demand side is called a housing choice voucher. Housing choice, they've changed the name of it, so i always have to think about it. Housing choice voucher. It used to be called a section eight voucher. So this is something like maybe people in housing have heard in the past. People call it It's just Section 8, although there's multiple programs called Section 8. So it gets a little bit confusing. But the way that the voucher works is a household who is income eligible, their incomes below a certain level. They go to the government and they request they get put on a waiting list essentially. And if they get this voucher, They take the voucher to an apartment and assuming the landlord accepts it, it's like a ticket that says I only need to pay 30% of my income for this rental unit every month. And the government will send a check to the landlord to fill up the rest. And the only restriction is that the landlord has to meet qualifications. The landlord has to accept it, and it will only go up to this thing called the fair market rent. And the fair market rent are these rents that are determined by Housing and Urban Development by county. So this is a really great program because it gives family's flexibility to go to locations that they want to go to. It really gets out of this idea of like segregating low-income people to the worst parts of cities. That was the whole point of this program. So back in the, back when, in the fifties, sixties and seventies, there was this program called public housing, which more informally is known as the projects. And somewhere in the sixties and seventies folks were like, you know, and 80's. There's all this research coming out saying like, you know, just like building really tall buildings and putting a bunch of low-income families into these places is not very beneficial to them. It's just creating, its just segregating them off in areas that don't necessarily have a lot of opportunity. Don't have great schools for their kids and may create sort of a bunch of negative externalities. So they were like we need to start moving toward programs that are not want to just segregate people. So that's great. I mean, there are, there's research that shows that if you allow households to move out of projects and go out to higher opportunity neighborhoods that their children that were younger than 13 when they move, their incomes are almost 30 percent higher or third higher than they would've been than the folks that stayed back in public housing. So there are huge gains that could be made by helping disperse families out of really high poverty areas and outward There's more opportunity. This is, I, I really like this program. I think most housing people like this program a lot. I think the biggest cost to it is that it's expensive, as you can imagine, and it's underfunded. So right now if there are, if there are five households that are eligible to get this voucher only one household is actually getting it. So you can think of it, it's a true lottery. Like if you win one of these vouchers, It's a huge improvement to your life. And there's all these folks sitting there wanting these vouchers and can't get them. Back a few years ago, Los Angeles County hadn't even opened there waiting lists for the housing voucher for 13 years. They finally opened it. And 600 thousand people applied for 20000 slots. So that's sort of highlights like the number of people that would love to and would really benefit from this voucher, But they're not able to get it. And then on top of that, so another sort of less positive thing is that lots of times, let's say you get a phone call and it's like, oh, you've got the voucher and you're like, oh, that's wonderful. And they're like, Well, you gotta go find a place to live and they're like, Oh no, I've got to work my two jobs. I'm working on all these things I didn't even think I was going to get this voucher. You get 90 days and you've got some people have, some, some housing departments have longer, but on average you'll get about 90 days and like go find a place and you need to find a landlord who is going to accept it. And landlords aren’t required to, and they might not want to deal with the regulation, or they might have had a bad experience with the previous tenant, like landlords might not always accept. So what ends up happening is these families get this voucher and they're scrambling trying to find, and there's all these regulations and they might not know all the regulations. It's just a difficult program to sort of maneuver through either some of them. Sometimes the time will expire and they loose it, which you can't imagine the heartbreak that would be. Or they're just, you know, I know my neighborhood. This is where I've been. I know there's a vacant unit down there. I'm just going to live there. So a lot of the benefits that this program could get, they don't get them. Because folks, it's hard to maneuver and it's a really tight market. And so it has all the pieces to it to be a wonderful program. And maybe in this case with this program, if you throw more money at it, where you give families more support and then your funding more families. I think that more money for this program is probably a very valuable thing. So that's the demand side, one. There's the supply side and there's actually multiple supply side programs. The biggest one is this thing called the low-income housing tax credit. So low-income housing tax credit cost like $10 billion a year and they produce about 60000 units. Both Rehab and new construction. This was a replacement for public housing that started in the eighties. And so what they did is instead of the government building public housing and managing it and just, you know, having a kind of not be managed very well. They said, let's instead have private developers apply to the government. They'll build this housing, they'll manage it. And in exchange for renting these things, these units at lower rates, we're going to get them tax credit. The tax credit side is a very complicated financial endeavor. I'm not gonna go into details because it will put everybody to sleep.

    But it doesn't matter. The point is that they get this money, they get these tax credits and they built housing. So this is a pretty good program.  I don't want to let my bias out too bad. But the negative. So the good things about this program is it's more likely to be in lower, lower poverty neighborhoods and public housing, which is good. But with that said, they still are sort of concentrated more in lower income areas. And part of the reason for that is that the county the way that the rents are determined and this is interesting. So when you are on the housing voucher folks, the amount that folks paid for rent was based on their income. But if you go into one of these Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Units, the amount that you pay is based on the county. So what they do is they take the county median rent and they are, excuse me, counting median income and they say, What if somebody made 50 percent of the median income? We want them to only spend 30% of their income on rent. So we'll just take the 50 percent median 30 percent. And then that's going to be the rent and it's the rent for all units regardless of where it is in the county. So counties in California are quite large. So you can imagine like if you're building an LA County, you're very seldom going to build one of these things in a very high rent area, right? You're gonna go find the lower rent areas. And there's sort of this there's research that sort of proves or provides evidence that many of these units would have been built in similar locations and rented for similar rents, even without the government subsidy. And so that's true in places where it's very flexible, where developers can go wherever they want. It's less true in some place like San Francisco, where the housing market is super tight and so they don't, and it's expensive everywhere. So if you're building these subsidized units in San Francisco, there's a good chance that you're actually adding to the housing stock. But if you're building perhaps in Riverside County where there's a lot of extra land and there are places where the rents are lower. Then as a developer, you're kinda like, Oh, I'll just go out there, I'll get my thing paid for 70 or 80 percent paid for and then I'll rent. This is pretty close to what I would have rented anyway. And those rents actually, when I explained that, I know it was mathy, but the rent that it ends up at, it's actually still pretty high. If you are somebody who makes up your real really low end of the distribution, you can't afford those rents unless you get a housing voucher. So you actually find that a lot of households that live in LIHTC units. Oh, LIHTC is low-income housing tax credit. A lot of households that live in these units that are at the lowest part of the income distribution still have to have a voucher in order to afford them. So when I said with the housing voucher, you just probably just want to dump more money at it and make sure that it's very well organized as you do it. I think with the low-income housing tax credit program. And this is what my research is on. So I'm admitting my bias. A lot of it is making sure that it's efficiently being funded. Like we're putting a lot of money in it every year. But I think a lot of it it's sort of have you ever heard the term a leaky bucket? The government dunks a bunch of money into the top, and then the developers take apart, and then the investors take apart, and then they start taking all these pieces. And by the time it gets down to the tenant, somebody did a nice paper that suggested that only 30 percent of that $10 billion ever reaches the lower-income households. It was sucked up by all the pieces along the way. And at the same time, the units that they're building, talking a lot, but the units that they're building are really expensive. So the average unit in California has $450 thousand to build through this program. And if you think about it, if you had four in the Inland Empire, It's just a little under $400 thousand. So if you go look online for a house in Riverside, you can find a house for less than $400 thousand. A single family home you can buy for $400 thousand. Might not be the best neighborhood. It might not be, you know, it's obviously not a mansion, but it's reasonable amount of money to spend on a house. And we're building apartment units with this program for $400 thousand per unit. So there's something going on where there's some inefficiencies in this program. I think that the program does a lot of good things when it comes to increasing housing supply, which is what we need to do to address the affordability crisis. But at the same time, folks, I think it really fixated on saying, we don't want this funding to be taken away. So they aren't willing to listen to how the program could be better. And so my, my, my opinion again is that we need to think about effectiveness and efficiency when it comes to throwing money at these various points. 

     

    Commercial: Social injustice, health disparities, climate change. Are you interested in solving pressing challenges like these currently facing our region and the world? Then consider joining the next cohort of future policy leaders like me by applying for the UCR Master of Public Policy program. Learn more at MPP.UCR.EDU. You can also find the link in our show notes. 

     

    Kevin Karami: I think that was a really, really interesting answer, you did a really, I think what's really interesting about it is the point on efficiency. We talked earlier about how a lot of people will assume that throwing money or increasing funding is the solution to a lot of these issues, but how that money is actually used and the point you made a report that indicated only about 30 percent of that actually goes to the tenants, 10 billion dollars doesn't look as big when you take off 70 percent of it. And you know, I can imagine it being even worse in different situations. So the fact that, you know, it looks like on paper, some of these things look like they're working, but there's a lot more to it and the efficiency of how that money is actually utilized by the government, by investors, by landlords. Its really significant and it doesn't get highlighted enough. And so to kind of transition into the next topic, we talked a lot about how certain policies or programs that we implemented have pros and cons. We talked about how big of an issue this is. So what policies do you think need to be implemented to kind of battle and curtail all of the points we've made on the concepts of these programs and also the housing deficit in general? 

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: So I think some combination of the two programs and similar programs like the ones I just described. I think that they are good, like these are both good ideas. They just need to be tweaked here, there to make sure they're as effective as possible. That's my job as a housing researcher, is to go and figure out what tweaks need to be made. The hard, the hard part is getting policies implemented, right? Like you guys as public policy folks, you should be knowing at some point that these policies are sticky. Like it's hard to get people to move off of them. So I think investment in these types of programs is already really Positive, like a good thing. I think discussions around zoning and around construction requirements and permits, like that's an important part. And I know that California is trying to take steps that are trying to make it easier to build housing. And I think those are conversations that are really important. Another thing that this is something that they don't talk about that much in sort of housing affordability, we tend to get really focused on rental housing, which is, which is, I think it makes sense because a large number of lower-income households rent. But I just can't. I always focus on or I always think about home ownership and just think that we're putting a ton of money. Yeah. And this is just me. These are my musings. I don't have anything strong to do it, but my musings are. Wealth inequality is a huge issue, and owning a home is like one of the best vehicles for wealth accumulation. So we're, we're spending a lot of money on these rental programs. And the money flows through low-income households and ultimately gets to developers and landlords and that's okay, that's and were okay with that. But if a portion of that could be siphoned off and put into equity for a home. And we start subsidizing mortgage payments and we start giving opportunities for low-income households to start becoming homeowners. It's going to help them be more invested in their communities. It's going to help, It's going to help. As far as, you know, when they leave that unit, they're going to take a big chunk of money with them and that's going to help them start stabilizing them more. So there are programs in place, things like It's called downpayment assistance or subsidized loans. But a lot of those sorts of programs focus on folks that are really close. Like it's like I, you know, I just need an extra five grand. And if I can get an extra five grand, then I can get myself a House. Which is that's not very much money in the big picture. But if we could, if there's some discussion, we can start having where folks at that low end of the distribution where we really don't expect them to ever start investing in housing. If we could start that process, I think it would be really valuable, but I don't know. I don't have a place to start. I just think that those conversations could be really helpful. 

     

    Raiyan Kalam: Dr. Lang, I know you touched on this briefly beforehand and how that there is, this stagnation with all the money going into the housing crisis. And I understand that the housing crisis has been a very big issue. I mean, you mentioned that the products were developed in the 60s. So with COVID coming in and the world experiencing a global pandemic and stagnation being even more present everywhere across an entire spectrum. How has COVID-19 actually impacted the housing crisis? 

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: So it's been interesting with COVID because of the eviction moratorium that came up. So the eviction moratorium, what it's done is it's made it it's obviously protected households, which was great thing. But it's made it also so the number of vacant units on the market have plummeted. So like all of the movement that used to happen, it just stopped moving. So now if you happen to be somebody who was out looking for a unit right now, it's really, really difficult. So that's the first part that it's done. The second thing that it's done that's important here is that it's made, it's the supply chain for construction materials and then also the availability of construction labor, which was already getting pretty shorthanded before COVID because folks folks don't want to work in construction anymore. They all want to be working in white-collar jobs. So it's getting more and more difficult to find folks that want to do that. But this supply chain issue, I think that you may have heard, you and your listeners may have heard about this lumber shortage. Prices of lumber were skyrocketing and people were like hoarding lumber like these are just construction materials are getting really expensive. And that's just going to make building the building housing even more expensive and more difficult. And then on the supply side, the demand side is that that financial instability for folks? I don't know. I wish I could tell you. I don't know how this financial shock is going to affect folks, going to affect households for the years to come. You know, maybe for a minute there this summer it seemed like the economy was just going to bounce back and everything was going to be fine. Now it's sort of like waffling and it's unclear. It's just unclear what's going to happen, but there's a, there's been an influx of financial instability that we're already talking about in the beginning, that low-income households with housing or in this unstable situation, and this is just another layer of instability. In that case, COVID has made it worse. If I want to be optimistic for just one moment, I think that COVID has also shined a light on a lot of issues of these root problems where we come up, where we were talking about kind of this inequality and upward mobility. I think that there's a, we're more likely to be having conversations about those big picture issues. And assuming that those conversations translate into policies or at least more awareness about them as we create policies. I think that that could be a positive thing in the long run. 

     

    Kevin Karami: Thank you, Dr. Lang I think the issue of COVID is really Like you mentioned at the end, there shines a light on some of the things that we may have missed before. They could have been there, but we just missed them. Although COVID has definitely affected us all in a massive way, I think it's still important to point out that we can see things that we didn't see before. And that maybe we can start working on those things for the future. But also like you mentioned, it's kinda hard to tell what COVID’s impact is going to be long-term in the future, 5, 10 years from now. I think we'll be looking back and I think there'll be a lot of studies and a lot of research done on how COVID affected probably mostly negative, negatively. But hopefully, like you said, maybe we can be a little optimistic. Hopefully maybe we can actually have some real movement in real, more investment from our legislators and our housing developers and everyone in the industry to actually solve the issue. So on that note, I'd like to end on, hopefully a more optimistic note. What kind of work can we do to help families in need of low income housing? When it's such a major issue, and it affects so many people

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: Well, you know, I think this is such a big issue that there aren't a ton of small opportunities. I think if you find things within your community that are things like Habitat for Humanity or programs that might be building up communities in positive ways. I think that those are great things to be involved in, even just donating to food banks or to. When you do your electric bill and they say, Do you want to donate to someone who can't pay their electric bill? They have things like those opportunities like those paying an electric bill, paying the electric bill for someone can mean, you know, not not making making rent or not making rent that month. So little things like that I think are really positive. In the big picture. I think one of the most important things we can do is I've looked with as I've worked within the housing policy space, I come in contact with a lot of people who are very single-minded in that they're like, this is the way it has to be done. And it can't be any other way. And if you suggest anything other than what I'm saying, You're obviously not wanting to help these people. Yeah. And so yeah. The things I was saying that were critical of the programs, if somebody was loosened to be listening to me, be critical of those programs, they might get very upset and they might say like you're trying to destroy this program. And I think people like me are not trying to destroy it. We really, our number one goal is just trying to house as many people as we possibly can. That is all we're trying to do. And so, you know, my my big picture advice to folks in the general public or working in policy is to be willing to have conversations and be willing to hear something that you might not necessarily agree with and not instantly assume that somebody's trying to undermine the whole thing. I think this happens all the time. We're in a political climate where everybody is quick to offend, everybody is quick to label somebody as uninformed or dumb or as whatever. And just try to take a step back and say, this is a very economics thing. Try to see what somebody else perspective is if marginal costs and marginal benefit. And try to have conversations as opposed to just splitting everything down the middle and say You're either yes or no. Because these things are difficult, like these are really difficult problems and there isn't a perfect solution. And the solution, you can come up with one, but you need to tweak it. So I think it's important to be open-minded about these things and had to be willing to listen to people so that when we can come to a solution that's going to work for everybody. 

     

    Kevin Karami: Thank you, Dr. Lang for joining us on the podcast. That's a great way to end it. On the note of people maybe being more open-minded to more creative and different solutions that they may have not been exposed to before. And I think that can be applied in any issue, but in this issue specifically. So thank you again for joining us in the podcast. It was an honor to have you on. 

     

    Dr. Bree Lang: Thanks so much for having me. It was a lot of fun. You guys are doing a great job. 


    Outro: This Podcast is a production of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy. Our theme music was produced by C Codaine. I'm Kevin Karami. Till next time.

Video