Housing

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It is critical that the housing bubble is safely deflated

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/06/2022 - 4:16am in

Stratospheric housing prices are perhaps the most critical domestic issue in Australia. Not only are a collapse of the housing bubble and a recession now threatening, but homelessness and rent stress, unaddressed and exploited, can quickly fester into ugly politics. The elephant in the room is the excessive money created by under-regulated commercial banks. Housing Continue reading »

Evanston, Illinois Is the First City to Offer Reparations to Black Residents

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/06/2022 - 6:00pm in

For most of her childhood, Ramona Burton didn’t notice other people treating her differently. Born in the city of Evanston, Illinois, the 73-year-old was raised by hard-working, loving parents: her mother was a primary school teacher; her father, among several jobs, was an employee at the Oscar Mayer meat company.

But as Burton grew up, she began to connect the dots. One time, she remembers, the family ordered a meal at a restaurant but they were told they could only have take out, not eat the food inside. Then, as a high school student, she was suspended for a day or two just for running down the hall too quickly, something that never happened to white students. Later on, she found out that she and her siblings had to be delivered in a Chicago hospital — Black babies weren’t allowed to be born in Evanston’s. “I realized there was a different set of rules for caucasians and for Blacks,” she says.

Ramona Burton and her siblings in 1955. Photo courtesy Ramona Burton

That prejudice against the Black community was deeply entrenched across the country as Burton grew up. Some say that while aspects of equality have improved and discrimination has reduced, much of it remains. But in a pioneering effort to begin the healing process for decades of racial injustice, last year Evanston became the first city in the US to offer Black residents reparations. 

“We hope this will lay the tracks and foundations for a better future,” says Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward Councilmember and Chair of the City’s Reparations Committee. “But there’s a long way to go. This process will take generations.”

Under the “Restorative Housing Program,” the first of the reparations initiatives, Evanston City Council has given an initial 16 qualifying Black households $25,000 for home repairs, down payments or mortgage payments. In order to qualify, residents must either have lived in — or be a direct descendant of a Black person who lived in — Evanston between 1919 to 1969 and suffered a form of discrimination related to housing because of city ordinances, policies or practices.

Research commissioned by the City of Evanston, which formed the groundwork for the reparations policy, uncovered city-mandated housing discrimination during that period. This included arbitrarily denying Black communities loans in a practice known as redlining, demolishing Black homes through commercial rezoning, and divesting from Black communities by closing the only school and hospital. These actions “led to the decline of socioeconomic status and hindered the ability to acquire wealth for Evanston’s Black community,” the researchers found.

The relics of those discriminatory policies are stark: Since the 1960s, unemployment in the city’s Black community has risen from five to 15 percent even while the citywide average has held steady below eight percent. Median income in the 5th ward, a Black neighborhood, ranges from $45,000 to $55,000, while the median in Evanston is between $60,000 and $110,000. The ward also has the lowest property values in the city, no public school, and is the only ward with areas classified as food deserts. 

“It is a first step, but it is an extraordinarily commendable first step,” says Cornell William Brooks, reparations advocate and professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School. Credit: risingthermals / Flickr

In response to those findings, the city identified four areas in which its local reparations could be focused: housing, education, economic development and mental health support related to the traumas of discrimination.

The first to be addressed is housing. The city is funding the scheme through a three percent tax on the sale of recreational marijuana from a local dispensary, as well as through private donations from individuals and companies. The goal is to “revitalize, preserve and stabilize” homes; increase homeownership and build wealth; build intergenerational equity; and improve the retention rate of homeowners.

Cornell William Brooks, professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School and a reparations advocate, believes the policy has the potential to be a landmark moment in US history.

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“It is a first step, but it is an extraordinarily commendable first step,” he says. “The first government reparation check was not issued by Washington DC. The cradle of the confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, didn’t do it. Charleston, South Carolina, where the Civil War began, didn’t do it. What this midsize city in Illinois is doing, attempting to repair the harm born of slavery, is not just noteworthy, but historic.”

The development of Evanston’s reparations dates back years and is rooted in community engagement. The Equity and Empowerment Commission held two meetings in July 2019 to discuss practical solutions for reparations with community members. Then, in November 2019, the council adopted Resolution 126-R-19, establishing the Reparations Fund and the Reparations Subcommittee. Following that, the subcommittee hosted three town halls to educate and inform the community on reparations at the local and federal level, plus 15 public meetings to discuss the Restorative Housing Program. “It helped us not only improve the program, but, I believe, contribute to the national discussion,” says Braithwaite.

The Reparations Committee randomly selecting the approved “Ancestor” applications. Credit: City of Evanston

While pioneering, Evanston’s scheme forms part of a wider national movement for reparations. Amherst, Massachusetts; Asheville, North Carolina; and Iowa City, Iowa, are among the places to have stated an interest in launching their own initiatives. And at the federal level, legislation has been introduced to create a commission to study and develop reparations proposals for Black Americans. Yet the issue is divisive: An opinion poll released in 2020 found that 80 percent of Black Americans believed the federal government should compensate the descendants of enslaved people, while only 21 percent of white respondents agreed.

According to data from 2019, the median white household held $188,200 in wealth — 7.8 times that of the typical Black household. Experts say that gap, which adds up to $14 trillion according to some estimates, can be linked to centuries of slavery, mass incarceration, discriminatory housing and finance policies.

“We’re talking about not billions but trillions of a wealth gap,” says Professor Brooks. “These inequities, perpetuated inequalities, are felt in your pocket book and in your DNA — in other words, people have less money, less worth and less life.”

That’s why Brooks believes the evidence-based nature of Evanston’s approach is crucial — and in that sense can be applied at the federal level. “Evanston engaged the community, it formed a commission, used scholars and research, was empirically driven and narratively informed,” he says. “This is a useful model. When you compare Evanston to the federal level, it’s like comparing a minnow to a whale. That being said, the minnow makes a case, a municipal argument for the federal response. It’s like the Montgomery Boycott to the Civil Rights movement.”

Others have also endorsed Evanston’s Restorative Housing Program, such as The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America and the National African American Reparations Commission. But the scheme has its critics, who say it is far from the direct payments that have come to characterize the idea of reparations, a form of redress for slavery and the subsequent racial discrimination in the United States.

Cicely Fleming, a Black alderwoman whose roots in Evanston go back to the 1900s, released a statement saying that while she is in support of reparations, she believes the Evanston scheme limits participation and fails to provide enough autonomy to the community that has been harmed. Whereas direct cash payments with no strings, she argues, allow community members to decide what’s best for themselves, Evanston’s payments must be spent in ways predetermined by the program.

But, according to Braithwaite, the reality is not so simple. For one, the city does not have the authority to exempt direct payments from state or federal income taxes, meaning recipients of any such stipends would be liable for the tax burden — as much as 28 percent. And the practicalities of awarding funds means that housing is the most straightforward method. A report on the city’s policies identified housing as the “strongest case for reparations” and uncovered  “sufficient evidence” of discrimination as a result of city zoning ordinances in place between 1919 and 1969. “Housing was at the top of the list of needs for the Black community, one of the top strategies for city council, and discrimination of housing is identified as one of the foundations of harm for reparations,” says Braithwaite.

Early evidence of Evanston’s program has shown tentative success. 122 out of around 700 Black households have already had their applications approved.

Ramona Burton

Recipients of the housing reparations are pleased with the work, too. Ramona Burton, a widow who has lived in her current home for 46 years, is one of the first recipients. She is using the money to replace her roof, install new windows and build a fence around her backyard. “I was very happy when I heard,” she says. “I never thought that I would be picked. It was like a cherry on a Sunday.”

But long-term indicators will prove more reliable: the city will monitor property values, the extent of segregation, the number of properties successfully being transferred through generations, as well as broadly the education and health outcomes of the city’s Black community.

In the future, Evanston plans to expand its reparations to other realms like education — a school will be restored in the 5th ward to replace the one torn down before. The city is also sharing best practices with a number of other cities such as Providence, Rhode Island and San Diego California, while in conversation with the National League of Cities. “Each local municipality has a specific harm depending on local history,” says Braithwaite. “But there are learnings we can share.”

Yet Braithwaite is clear about the limits of the program’s objectives. For one, Evanston’s reparations are only responding to the local wrongs that were done, not those perpetrated on the federal level. “These local reparations are much different to the national issue,” he says. “The foundation of it is what was done against the Black community in Evanston.”

Burton agrees that these reparations can only achieve so much, but that they should nonetheless be scaled. “I think it’s a baby step in the right direction,” she says. “It’s kind of like an apology for wrongdoings and it is helping out. I think every major city should join, especially down south, where prejudice was well known.”

One teething problem, however, is financing. With just one cannabis dispensary, Evanston’s initial income for the scheme has been lower than expected — though there’s capacity for up to five dispensaries to be built. Other proposals reportedly being considered include a tax on lakefront properties and a transfer of $5 million from the city’s general fund. “I hope that we’re able to attract more dollars and accelerate this program to fund all those who applied,” says Braithwaite.

But advocates say that reversing decades of racial discrimination, done well, will be a gradual process. “We need to manage expectations, but also need to be sure that monies are being justly spent,” says Brooks. “Assessment is so important here. Are we doing what needs to be done in a demonstrably impactful way? We can’t look at the long arc of history and insist on solving the problem in nanoseconds.”

The post Evanston, Illinois Is the First City to Offer Reparations to Black Residents appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Home Truths: Boris Johnson is Weaponising the Housing Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/06/2022 - 1:38am in

The Government's new housing proposals reinforce a cynical narrative about 'skivers versus strivers' perpetuated by the Conservatives over the last 12 years, argues Sascha Lavin

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In an attempt to relaunch his leadership after a narrowly won confidence vote, Boris Johnson promised a “home ownership revolution”. But the Prime Minister’s proposal to extend ‘Right to Buy’ is far from revolutionary. 

The policy of selling council properties to people living in them at a heavily discounted price has been around since the 1980s, and Johnson’s exact plan to extend this right to housing association tenants was pinched from David Cameron’s 2015 manifesto.

Cameron dropped the pledge after an unsuccessful pilot in the West Midlands found that the scheme further reduced already limited council housing stock. 

But it is the tactics underpinning the Prime Minister’s new policy that are the least revolutionary. Johnson’s proposals regurgitate a key tactic from the Conservative Party's playbook: the Right to Buy policy is another attempt to reinforce divisions between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor.

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Skivers Versus Strivers

David Cameron, in his first Conservative Party Conference speech as Prime Minister, attacked the idea of “taking more money from the man who goes out to work long hours each day so the family next door can go on living a life on benefits without working”.

With this, he kickstarted a renewed campaign against society’s apparent ‘skivers’, in favour of ‘strivers’. And this manufactured dichotomy – a 21st Century re-working of the ‘deserving’ and ‘underserving’ poor – has been reiterated and reinforced ever since.

Cameron’s Chancellor, George Osborne, compared “the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning” – a member of the deserving poor – with their undeserving neighbour, “sleeping off a life on benefits”.

Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative leader and the architect of the Universal Credit benefits system, described out-of-work claimants as “languishing on welfare”.

And this is not just about rhetoric. The party’s policies over the past 12 years have pitted different cohorts of the working class against one another.

Cameron cut billions from the welfare budget, justifying the move as “the best way to help the hard-working families that are in work” – moralising the disastrous effects of his policy on the poorest.

The Coalition Government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ punished social housing tenants, including domestic violence survivors and disabled people, for having a spare room in their home. Instead of freeing up social housing as promised, the punitive policy forced people further into poverty. The Department for Work and Pensions’ own evaluation found that more than three-quarters of those affected by it had been forced to cut back on food while one-in-10 were forced to take out payday loans. 

Boris Johnson has followed in his predecessors’ footsteps.

In October, the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift was cut, despite UN poverty envoy Olivier De Schutter warning that such a move would be “unconscionable at this point in time”. The cut – described by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as “the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since World War Two” – is expected to push half a million more people into poverty. 

In response to the cost of living crisis, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini budget in March promised tax cuts “for workers, for pensioners, for savers” – but failed to shield vulnerable households dependent on state benefits.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, tweeted that those subsisting on means-tested benefits “will be facing cost of living increases of probably 10% but their benefits will rise by just 3.1%”.

Sunak has subsequently announced that households receiving means-tested benefits will get a cost of living payment of £650, on top of a £400 energy bill discount and a £150 council tax rebate – but, while the cost of living crisis is set to persist for the near future (energy bills will rise again later in the year) it is unclear how long the Chancellor’s generosity will last.

Through Johnson’s Right to Buy proposal, the Conservatives are reiterating the ‘skivers’ versus ‘strivers’ distinction, favouring a fortunate few at the expense of the unhoused many.

Political Posturing

In his ‘benefits to bricks’ speech last week, the Prime Minister promised to “give greater freedoms to those who yearn to buy” by extending the Right to Buy to housing association residents. 

People with simpler dreams – like the 1.19 million on waiting lists for social housing – were deemed to be undeserving of Johnson’s housing revolution. Those who yearn to live in social housing, pushed increasingly into overcrowded or temporary accommodation, were sacrificed so a lucky minority can have a leg-up. 

Yet again, Johnson referenced “hard-working families” in his speech, drawing on David Cameron’s favourite dichotomy.

So, the waiting list for social housing is likely to get even longer under Johnson’s new proposals. Housing Secretary Michael Gove may have promised to replace every housing association property sold off “like for like, one for one”, but for decades these same promises have failed to translate into supply matching demand. 

“Right to Buy pilots have shown that there is not enough money from sales to build new social homes to replace those sold, meaning a net loss of social housing,” said the National Housing Federation’s Kate Henderson.

Since 1980, when Right to Buy was first introduced under Margaret Thatcher, the number of social rent homes has reduced by 1.5 million, with the proportion of households living in homes for social rent falling from 30% to 17%

Social house building in England is at its lowest rate in decades: in the five-year period from the 2015/16 financial year, no homes for social rent were built in 50 local authorities. 

Research by housing charity Shelter shows that fewer than 5% of the homes sold off under Right to Buy have been replaced. The picture is even bleaker in rural communities, where the current replacement rate for social housing is one new home built per eight homes sold, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England

The benefits to building more social housing are vast. As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Rachel Casey has explained: “Investing in social housing will help low-income households escape poverty in the current economic downturn, and change the unaffordability and unsuitability of the current housing market.” Creating new, affordable housing options would create much-needed downward pressure on the rental market – much needed in cities like London.

Indeed, the London Assembly estimated that there would be a collective saving of more than £900 million if every housing benefit claimant in London who lived in the private rented sector lived in a council home instead. 

But, as Thomas Perrett has noted in this newspaper, Johnson’s motivations for adopting this new policy seem to have little to do with widening access to affordable housing or cutting costs to the public purse. Pointing to the correlation between home-owners and Conservative voters, Perrett argues that Johnson’s motivations are political in nature. 

As Johnson hopes his housing announcements can distract from his political problems, the real losers are the people who bear the brunt of Britain’s housing crisis.

Those who most acutely face a housing emergency – the 96,060 households in temporary accommodation, the 4,266 people forced to sleep rough and the 1.5 million people squeezing into overcrowded social homes – will continue to lose out under Boris Johnson’s 'revolution'. They deserve better.

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World’s Biggest Four-Day Work Week Experiment Begins

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/06/2022 - 12:24am in

Three great stories we found on the internet this week.

T.G.I. Thursday

Four-day work weeks are all the rage, and now they have their biggest platform yet: this week, employees at 70 U.K. companies begin working only 80 percent of their normal hours. Assuming they maintain productivity, they’ll continue to receive full pay. It is the biggest four-day work week experiment on record and could set the stage for wider adoption. 

The six-month trial, organized by a group of nonprofits and academic researchers, posits that when efficiency is maximized, most workers can get all their tasks done in a shorter week. Evidence supports this theory: other large-scale four-day work week experiments have found that fewer working hours don’t reduce productivity and make employees happy (who knew?). It’s a perk that some businesses may find helps them attract talent amid a tight labor market. 

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge,” said one of the organizers. 

Read more at the Washington Post

A home of your own

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes efforts to reduce homelessness. The city of Houston has moved 25,000 people off the streets and into permanent housing.

It’s a stunning success for the “Housing First” model, which says people’s housing needs should be met before they’re expected to tackle their other issues. And it was no easy lift. To achieve it, Houston had to get dozens of entities — nonprofits, companies, county agencies — to work in unison over the course of a decade. All that effort has led to results few dared to hope for. Homelessness has fallen in Houston twice as fast as in the rest of the country. And average wait times for permanent housing are a fraction of what they once were. For instance, veterans experiencing homelessness once had to wait an average of 720 days for permanent housing — now they wait 32 days. Since 2011, homelessness in Houston has fallen by 63 percent.

 

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“The bottom line is that nearly everybody in Houston involved in homelessness got together around what works,” said former Houston mayor Annise Parker. “That’s our secret sauce.”

Read more at the New York Times

Into the sunset

Gas-powered cars are one step closer to extinction in the EU — the European Parliament just voted to phase them out by 2035.

The transportation sector is the biggest source of emissions in Europe. Cars alone account for 12 percent of emissions, and only 18 percent of European car sales last year were electric or hybrid. Banning gas-powered cars would go a long way toward helping the EU meet its ambitious climate goals, chiefly cutting emissions by 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But the vote doesn’t enshrine the goal in law — rather, it affirms the Parliament’s position leading into upcoming negotiations with EU countries. 

“Purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers” with the ban, said Parliament’s lead negotiator on the policy.

Read more at Reuters

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Five Years on From Grenfell: A Community Betrayed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 11:49pm in

Former Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad reflects on the broken social contract that has underpinned the Grenfell tragedy and the five years since

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The social contract has been broken. The bond between those who vote for, put their trust in, and pay their taxes to those charged with their affairs, has been trashed by both national and local government.

We saw that in the disdain paid towards laws and regulations in 10 Downing Street as ministers wasted billions of pounds of our money on bad, and possibly corrupt, contracts during the pandemic. And while we were scrupulous not to hold hands with our loved ones as they passed away, those in charge danced on their graves.

We see the destruction of the social contract in the Government’s constant attempt to wriggle out of accountability for the Grenfell Tower fire – now five long years ago – and its unwillingness to implement meaningful improvements to building and fire safety.

They have pitted businesses, professions and individuals against each other, just as they have divided so successfully the various Grenfell communities. Divide and conquer is the guiding mantra of our governing elite.

We see this in local government, also, where councils across the country struggle with impossibly large workloads for building remediation, attempting to navigate unattainable eligibility criteria to access to Government funding. They need help, but have been placed in an obstacle course.

Meanwhile, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – the council that contains Grenfell Tower – local leaders crow about keeping the streets clean and the al fresco revolution of outdoor eating, but refuse to accept full accountability for the questionable spending on Grenfell-related services, or the huge sums spent on local directors while so many in the community are still traumatised, unable to or barely-able to work. Indeed, children still struggle with intense mental health problems – affecting their everyday schoolwork – and face the danger of falling behind and being ‘off-rolled’ into a pupil referral unit, that some call ‘crime academies’.

The Westminster Government has decided that it can spend billions on dodgy contracts, writing off yet more in fraud, yet cannot feed children or raise benefits. Parents already working full-time are therefore forced to find another job to pay for soaring food and energy bills. The Government’s refusal to raise wages, or to put in place meaningful support, belies its real intent – to keep the poor in a state of deprivation and desperation.

The inequality divides witnessed during the pandemic are suffered by those whose ethnic background, social status, or indeed accent doesn’t match what is deemed acceptable by those we entrust to care for us. And when these people suffer, there is little safety net to fall back upon.

An Alternative

All of this was mirrored in north Kensington in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity. Inequalities have worsened in the area around the tower, despite ten of millions of pounds spent there. Where did the money go? we ask, while obfuscating council reports tell us nothing.

Inequalities are a festering wound in Kensington and Chelsea, where even half the money ‘invested’ in vanity projects, if spent on tackling poverty long-term, could make a genuine difference. Not just hand-outs, not just hardship funds or tokenistic gestures – local spending could and should offer serious financial investment in people to improve their life outcomes and financial incomes.

There is simply no excuse for the extreme inequality in Kensington and Chelsea. Here, at least, in the wealthiest corner of Britain, it could be fixed. The problem is a lack of commitment from those who make decisions. They will not share power, they will not devolve responsibility to our energetic, caring and organised communities. Instead, they want to limit any attempt at self-organisation, and they do this by imposing an arcane and complex funding system.

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They forget that council money is our money. They forget that the council is there to serve and not to rule. And they will do everything possible to maintain the pyramid of power that keeps the little people at the bottom.

This attitude has been made clear throughout the revelations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. What we always knew, and what was always denied, has now been evidenced. The game is up.

Realising that the social contract has been broken, and that we owe no deference to those who have failed us so comprehensively, is painful but essential.

Many in the community say they no longer recognise the authority of the council. Once we have recovered from these years of abject failure, the community will look for potential alternatives. And many of us will be beside them all the way.

Emma Dent Coad was the Labour MP for Kensington from 2017 to 2019

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What are the Benefits of Being a Tory Donor?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 11:02pm in

Sam Bright reviews the perks enjoyed by the big money patrons of the Conservative Party

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Washington DC, the US capital, is often portrayed as a playground for billionaires, with parties and candidates engaged in a constant fundraising cycle, flogging their future political influence to businessmen and lobbyists.

Perhaps because the American system is so indebted to corporate interests, Westminster is seen as a place relatively free from the corrupting influence of big money. Yet, private wealth does swirl around the UK political system, and largely ends up in the coffers of the Conservative Party. 

The 2019 General Election campaign attracted roughly £19 million in donations from individuals and £6.5 million from companies, £19.3 million (76%) of which ended up in the hands of the Conservative Party. Much of the rest, £4.1 million, was funnelled to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. 

Labour, by contrast, received little more than £350,000 from individuals and private enterprises.

Tory donors evidently seek to further the party’s ideological cause. However, the donations are not purely altruistic, with rewards – notably access to senior ministers – offered in exchange for financial generosity. 

The question is whether one of these perks is the ability to shape the Government’s legislative agenda, or its spending preferences – allowing the wealthy to influence the decisions of Downing Street from a safe distance. 

Of course, we can’t say for sure. The meetings between Conservative donors and ministers typically occur in private, with both parties maintaining a veil of silence that shields the content of their conversations from public view.

Only occasionally are we able to peer behind the curtain. Indeed, we caught a glimpse of the party’s inner-workings during the frenzied onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, when the Government scrambled to procure protective equipment for NHS staff, and tests for the general public. 

During this scramble, firms with ties to the Conservative Party profited. As Byline Times and The Citizens calculated, companies owned by Tory donors won COVID contracts worth at least £1 billion, while companies owned by Conservative associates won contracts worth at least £2 billion

This wasn’t a coincidence – Lord James Bethell, a junior health minister during much of the pandemic, admitted to the House of Lords that “informal arrangements” were used for the procurement of crucial supplies and services. 

“We relied on a very large network of contacts and informal arrangements in order to reach the people who could manufacture, often moving their manufacturing from one product to another,” he said. 

We also know that Lord Bethell and other ministers held meetings with firms owned by Conservative donors at the outset of the pandemic – firms that went on to win deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Take Meller Designs – a company co-owned by David Meller, who has donated nearly £60,000 to Conservative politicians and the central party since 2009. Meller was the finance chair of Michael Gove’s short-lived Conservative leadership campaign in 2016, and Meller Designs was referred to the ‘VIP lane’ – an expedited procurement channel – by Gove himself. Meller held a meeting with Lord Bethell on 6 April 2020. A month later, Government records show, the firm began winning PPE contracts worth millions of pounds. In total, the company increased its profits by 9,000% during the latest accounting period – logging £13 million in gains for the period ending December 2020.

Meanwhile, there has been extensive evidence published by the Government showing how former Conservative MP Owen Paterson lobbied the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock to use the COVID testing services of Randox – a firm that employed Paterson and has given money to the Conservatives in the past. Randox ended up winning contracts worth more than £600 million, though maintains that its contracts “were awarded in full compliance with Government procedures and protocols in place at a time of the emerging pandemic.”

Similarly, there is proof that party donors influenced the Government’s wider COVID strategy. As The Times reported in February, a group of big money Conservative donors has been given direct access to Downing Street officials – and even the Prime Minister – by virtue of their patronage of the party. 

“It was implied that what we said would go straight up to the Prime Minister,” one witness to the meetings said. “It was a two-way street. They gave us information on what was going on. We gave our advice.”

These individuals – who include Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Vladimir Putin’s former deputy finance minister – used their political access, during the pandemic, to lobby for ‘pro-business’ policies. In other words, for more relaxed Coronavirus restrictions. 

None of the meetings were logged in official records or were minuted. “According to sources, some donors started to use meetings to lobby for their own personal or business interests,” The Times reporting adds.

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Purposeful Inaction

In other policy areas, there are also reasons to believe that Conservative donors mould the party’s policies. This may not be the result of direct lobbying, but rather the application of pressure through indirect means – chatting to a sympathetic policy advisor at a Conservative fundraising dinner, for example, or funding/circulating reports within the party that support a particular legislative agenda. 

In many cases, this influence is seen through a lack of Government action, rather than active administrative intervention. 

Take the housing market. The Conservative Party has promised to solve Britain’s housing crisis for the last 12 years, with little success. In part, this is because the Government’s solutions have concentrated on facilitating demand rather than boosting supply. From ‘Right to Buy’ to ‘Help to Buy’, the Government has attempted to boost the spending power of a few individual buyers, failing to address the structural problems in the market. 

Yet, fixing these structural issues – and reducing the overall cost of housing – would of course involve taking on the vested interests in the housing market, particularly big house-builders and development companies. Between 2010 and 2020, companies and individuals with a substantial interest in housing donated £60.8 million to the Conservatives – 20% of all funds given to the party during this period. 

A housing crisis precipitated by the financial sector triggered the global economic crisis of 2008, from which Britain has barely recovered. Even so, the Government has been a passive watchman, applying new regulations to ensure financial stability, but ultimately doing little to reduce individual economic dependence on the banks. Low interest rates over the last decade have been accompanied by stagnant wages and ever-growing property prices – meaning that household debt still stands at roughly 130% of disposable income, which is only marginally lower than during the financial crisis. 

And while bankers receive eye-popping bonuses – £1.9 billion at Barclays in 2021 – these institutions continue to commit repeated corporate violations. As calculated by Byline Times, the banking and finance sector was found guilty for 46% of the £9.8 billion in fines handed down by Government agencies for business misconduct during the last decade. 

OpenDemocracy research has shown that, during the 2019 General Election campaign, 40% of the Conservative Party’s income came from the financial sector. 

Moreover, all of these donors, in all of these industries, are extremely wealthy individuals supporting a Government that has little appetite for economic redistribution. After increasing markedly during the Thatcher years, the UK’s ‘Gini’ coefficient (which measures inequality) has remained roughly at the same level ever since.

The rich and poor continue to inhabit different economic universes, while the upper cohort piles money into the UK’s dominant political party – and reaps the rewards. 

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Cartoon: Housing crisis made E-Z

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 9:50pm in

This particular doom spiral, which once seemed relegated to a handful of hip cities and resort towns, has seemingly spilled over into just about anyplace you'd want to live now. I don't mean to pin personal blame on particular kinds of workers, but the widening gap between jobs that can cover the cost of living and those that don't. (I realize not all realtors make tons of money!) The ultimate irony of this dysfunctional system is that eventually the "essential" workers disappear, leading the obliviously wealthy to lament that poor people are "lazy" and don't want to work anymore.

Support these comics by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.

Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Boris Johnson: Nowhere Man

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/06/2022 - 10:34pm in

With the Prime Minister having finally faced a moment of reckoning, Professor Chris Painter surveys the wreckage of a Government devoid of purpose on the key public policy issues of the day

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Nothing has changed; everything has changed. Following Monday’s vote of confidence, Boris Johnson staggers on, for now. The lyrics from the famous 1960s Beatles track even more perfectly encapsulate, through popular culture, the state of his failing premiership: “He’s a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody, doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to.”

The next lyrical line doesn’t fit so well – “Isn’t he a bit like you and me?” – it is, of course, the very opposite of Johnson’s brand. If anyone still doubted his lack of affinity with the citizens for whose well-being he is nominally responsible, then the Sue Gray report served as a stark confirmation.

But returning to the main lyrical theme, Johnson’s still young premiership, now wounded even more, had already lost all defining purpose. Of course, he never possessed the skill set, nor showed the slightest inclination, to take seriously policy or programme delivery. That’s why it was always a forlorn hope to expect his premiership to make any substantial or lasting difference to the fundamental economic, social and constitutional problems facing this country. Instead, distant rhetorical promises are Johnson’s political stock in trade.

It was, however, May’s Queen’s Speech (delivered by the Prince of Wales) that really gave the game away. With the UK facing its most serious stagflationary crisis since the 1970s, it prioritised another cocktail of populist measures, like an ageing rock star revisiting their greatest hits. This despite the fact that political parties on the progressive wing of British politics had all taken substantial numbers of seats from the Conservatives in the 2022 local and Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

It signified, moreover, a reversion to tired neo-Thatcherite deregulatory ideology, including financial deregulation reminiscent of the ‘big bang’ zeitgeist of the late 1980s, a paradigm that was to culminate in the 2007/8 crash. The clarion call is for yet more hollowing out of the public domain, when the requirements of our times call for precisely the opposite: a confident state able to mobilise resources on a scale commensurate with the magnitude of the challenges ahead.  

Johnson particularly reverted to his totemic agenda – Brexit tribalism – threatening to unilaterally renounce the Northern Ireland Protocol. Increased trade friction is of course intrinsic to the extreme form of Brexit he embraced, and these noises have sowed European dissension at the very moment when maintaining unity is essential for Ukraine’s prospects of rebuffing Putin’s invasion.

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A Strategic Vacuum

Yet policy lurches of the kind reflected in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest cost of living measures are a recurring feature of Johnson’s style of governing. Such short-term fixes are no substitute for the structural redistribution – socio-economic and spatial – necessary to achieve any meaningful ‘levelling up’. 

Meanwhile, public services suffer recurring resource crises. They are even denied any serious workforce planning, guided instead by arbitrary targets plucked out of thin air, which are invariably missed. All, of course, rendered worse by mishandling of the pandemic.

Too many schools remain in a state of disrepair, as academic attainment gaps again follow a worrying trajectory. And there appears to be complete inability to scale up affordable and social housing, a task not even beyond the capability of post-1945 Labour and Conservative administrations after the devastation wrought by the Second World War. Instead, the thin gruel of recycled Thatcherism is again served up in the form of the muted resuscitation of ‘Right to Buy’.

In another pivotal policy area, the energy security plan cobbled together to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels failed to capitalise on two obvious quick wins: onshore wind farms and a comprehensive home insulation programme. No wonder a viable path to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions remains elusive; hence the alarm bells periodically rung by the Climate Change Committee, as the statutory body set up to monitor progress. If anything, Sunak’s May cost of living measures incentivise further oil and gas extraction.

There is more than enough reform needed to keep any progressive administration at full stretch for two, if not three, terms of office, before even considering the urgent need to rewire the UK’s governmental architecture and constitutional safeguards.

Instead, post-confidence vote, we have Tories trapped in political no man’s land, having finally summoned the will to channel their disenchantment with Johnson. It is now an administration riddled with factions, with no sense of leadership or direction.

It is hard to conceive of anything that will heal Johnson’s fundamental breach of trust with the public, no matter how many ministers he reshuffles. Already saved twice, first by COVID vaccines and then by the situation in Ukraine, he descends into ever deeper trouble.

In the vote on his leadership, nearly 150 Conservative MPs declared a lack of confidence in him, a figure at the higher end of expectations. All that this has therefore achieved is to bring simmering and systemic Tory fractures to the surface. It has provided a foretaste of the bitter political infighting to come as Johnson’s fragile 2019 electoral coalition of voters unravels.

Precedents suggest it is either just a temporary reprieve (as proved the case with Theresa May), or a precursor to a humiliating election defeat served on a rudderless leadership presiding over a volatile party (the John Major scenario). Cling to power as Johnson may, we have indeed only seen the opening salvoes in this unfolding political drama.  

Chris Painter is Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Management and formerly Head of Social Sciences at Birmingham City University

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Home Is Where the Art Is

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/06/2022 - 1:20am in

Everybody in Düsseldorf knows Michael Hermann by his nickname “Hörman.” His bright red beard and impish smile distinguish him from his peers who sell the magazine fiftyfifty on street corners. “Love on the streets,” is the headline of the most recent issue, approaching “the taboo topic” with sensitivity and care.

Fiftyfifty derives its name from its founding idea 25 years ago: The mostly unhoused street vendors who sell it keep fifty percent of the sales price, currently 2 euros and 80 cents (about $3 USD). The other half finances the magazine’s monthly production. But for Hermann, selling fiftyfifty means much more than a few euros. After over two decades on the streets, fiftyfifty bought him a place to live in 2017 — not just a bed in a shelter, but a brand new studio apartment all to himself — thanks to a glamorous blonde photographed in stunning black and white by the late Peter Lindbergh. 

Michael “Hörman” Hermann. Credit: fiftyfifty

Hermann’s social worker, Oliver Ongaro, does the math: Celebrity photographer Lindbergh donated 14 pictures to the Düsseldorf gallery operated by fiftyfifty. Each print was auctioned for 4,200 euros. From these proceeds, plus a few smaller donations, fiftyfifty purchased Hermann’s apartment for 64,700 Euros (about $70,000 USD) including the cost for renovations. 

“This is basically the amount two years of care for him would have cost anyway,” says Ongaro, referring to the German social system that covers assisted living, temporary shelters and emergency health care for people experiencing homelessness. “So we might as well get him a permanent home for that.” 

Hermann decorated his 300 freshly renovated square feet with a comfy couch and well-organized wall unit. Every corner shines as if newly scrubbed. The best part: Hermann left his heroin addiction at the doorstep of his new home, along with his penchant for alcohol binges. “When I know where I can stay for sure, I can establish myself permanently, build lasting connections with my neighbors and tackle my issues,” he says.

The art of ‘Housing First’

The nonprofit fiftyfifty, which receives not a cent from the state, derives funding not only from its newspaper — which regularly publishes renowned authors — but also from its aforementioned gallery, which features some of the biggest names in contemporary art: Gerhard Richter, Thomas Ruff, Jörg Immendorff, Imi Knoebel, Wim Wenders, Günther Uecker, Andreas Gursky, Katharina Sieverding, Candida Höfer, Markus Lüpertz, Katharina Fritsch, Beat Streuli, and many more. Each one has a connection to Düsseldorf, having studied or taught at the renowned local arts academy, the Kunstakadamie, and this bond with the city underpins their support of fiftyfifty’s pioneering housing project. The artists donate their art for auction, and fiftyfifty uses the revenue to purchase permanent housing for the city’s unhoused residents, who pay only a small fee to contribute to the expenses. 

Today, fiftyfifty owns 50 apartments that house 60 people permanently, plus about a dozen more apartments that wealthy locals have “lent” at no cost to unhoused people. The success rate is immense: nearly 100 percent of the housing recipients are still in their homes. “One family moved back to Croatia for personal reasons, some need help with keeping their homes clean, and we had one woman who we just got into supervised housing because she could not kick her drug addiction,” says Ongaro. 

fiftyfiftyThe mostly unhoused street vendors who sell fiftyfifty keep 50 percent of the sales price, about $3 USD. Credit: fiftyfifty

What also makes fiftyfifty unique is that they focus on the toughest cases: the people who have been homeless the longest, with the most challenging addiction problems or mental health issues. “A lot of nonprofits want to take the cream of the crop so their results look impressive,” Ongaro says without a hint of judgment. “We’re the opposite. We want to show that this approach works for the people who have been on the street for over a decade and who might be battling more than one addiction or mental health issue at once.”

With its artsy touch, fiftyfifty brings a unique twist to the “Housing First” approach, which posits that people should be housed before they’re expected to tackle their other challenges. The model is still comparatively new in Germany, but has been successful in reducing chronic homelessness in countries such as Finland and Canada. 

Ongaro, a jovial social worker with salt-and-pepper hair and a winning smile, has been with fiftyfifty for nearly 20 years. He is all too familiar with how social services normally work in Germany. Getting permanent housing is all but impossible for someone struggling with severe addiction and no stable job because affordable housing is usually tied to conditions such as sobriety and a regular income.

“There is no way someone like Hermann gets an apartment on the housing market,” Ongaro says. Five times, Hermann got a bed in one of Düsseldorf’s residential care homes, where contracts are always limited to 18 or 24 months. “It’s really inhumane,” Ongaro says. “Towards the end, there is always stress because it’s always the same: He has to leave and no other place is available and he’s back on the street. More often than not, this leads to a relapse in addiction, and that is massively hazardous to people’s health.” The person needing a home then starts again at the beginning of the process. Ongaro calls it “the revolving door effect.”

Without art, fiftyfifty’s housing fund would not exist. It was actually Gerhard Richter, at the time the highest valued contemporary artist, who kickstarted the Housing First effort by donating his entire Cage f.ff. I-VI series, 30 colorful abstract paintings, in 2015. Each offset sold for 80,000 to 130,000 euros. This became the seed money for fiftyfifty’s housing fund. Together with the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband NRW, a powerful regional lobbying platform for 3,200 social organizations in North Rhine-Westphalia, fiftyfifty established the fund in 2017.

Today it holds more than 1.2 million euros with which it aims to buy 100 apartments. The limit of 100 apartments was set by fiftyfifty itself. “We don’t want to become a professional real estate investor, and we can’t be the stopgap for misguided state politics,” says fiftyfifty’s founding director and editor-at-large, Hubert Ostendorf. But he hopes other organizations and cities will copy this model and continue this work.

fiftyfiftyContemporary artist Gerhard Richter kickstarted fiftyfifty’s Housing First effort with his own paintings. Credit: fiftyfifty

Since then, Richter has been donating repeatedly. For instance, he once called Ostendorf out of the blue and said, “I have two versions of a new painting but I only need one. Do you want the other?” It was one of his famous “Mother and Child” photo paintings. The answer was easy. “Yes,” Ostendorf said. The next day, he got in his car and fetched the treasure. The deal is that Ostendorf spends the money as soon as possible. The same week, Ostendorf spotted an affordable apartment for sale and bought it outright. Richter, now 90 years old, studied at the Kunstakademie, the very institute where Sigmar Polke, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer and later photographers such as Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky and Candida Höfer also mastered their crafts. 

“The artists trust us,” says Ostendorf, dressed in black from head to toe like most of his artists. Passionate about art, he had worked with local artists even before he started the gallery. For instance, photo artist Thomas Struth organized a photo campaign in 2003, distributing cameras to unhoused people who took pictures of the passersby. 

Ostendorf auctions the donated art online or at the gallery at a price he negotiates with the artists. He describes the relationships as grounded in mutual respect that has grown over a quarter century. It’s a win-win: Art lovers get exquisite art at a very fair price (but often double the sum as a donation), and the most vulnerable Düsseldorf residents get a permanent home.

Ongaro raves about how stable housing changes his clients. Hermann’s wall unit, for instance, didn’t fit into the elevator. “It was awesome to see that he didn’t give up,” Ongaro remembers. “It was enormously important for him to decorate his apartment beautifully, and his own appearance changed, too. It’s about self-worth — and that from a man who has tried for 20 years to destroy his body.”

Staying ahead of the market

Housing First was pioneered in the U.S. and Canada. By giving people permanent housing with a lock and a key — no bunk beds, no cubicles, no theft — social workers help them address other issues, such as debt, addiction or joblessness. 

The model has proven itself in dozens of cities and countries. One study examined its success in five European cities: Amsterdam, Lisbon, Budapest, Copenhagen and Glasgow. “80 to 90 percent of long-term homeless people stayed in their apartments when we looked after two to five years,” summed up researcher Volker Busch-Geertsema. “The social integration works.” But Housing First does not mean Housing Only, adds Busch-Geertsema. “It’s not about giving people a key and saying, ‘Good luck!’ There are additional services, but accepting them is not a condition of keeping the apartment.” Housing First also works best, he found, when the apartments are not all clustered in one place. This matches the experience of fiftyfifty. Neighbors often are not even aware that they live next to someone whose last address was a street corner. 

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The pandemic threatened to undo some of fiftyfifty’s progress. During the lockdown in the spring and summer of 2020, hardly anybody wanted to approach a street vendor selling the fiftyfifty magazine. “It was almost like we were the only people on the street,” Ongaro remembers. The magazine rescued itself by establishing online subscriptions to recover its costs, but it was a rough two years.

The housing crunch has been exacerbated by soaring housing prices, which have doubled and tripled in German cities over the last few years, especially in already overpriced markets like Berlin, Munich and Düsseldorf. Asked how Housing First can secure affordable housing in an overheated market, Busch-Geertsema reels off a list of measures cities and communities can take: force real estate investors to allocate up to 20 percent of new apartments as affordable, guarantee landlords their rent if they lease their property to an unhoused tenant, or motivate churches to allocate some of their real estate to people experiencing homelessness. Also, Busch-Geertsema points out that it is just as important to help housed people not slip into homelessness in the first place. “It’s much easier to support someone in their home than to start all over on the streets.” Or, as the late fiftyfifty supporter and enfant terrible artist Jörg Immendorff put it: “We need badass action from the state.” 

Despite the taxed resources, on the other hand, the pandemic made some wealthy people even wealthier. An often underestimated aspect of fiftyfifty’s concept is that it gives people a reliable tool to help the neediest. “People who buy renowned art usually have disposable income,” Ongaro has learned. “But when they give donations to organizations, it is often unclear where the money goes exactly or how much is skimmed for administrative costs. Our process is very simple: You have the money to buy an apartment, and we handle everything else. This way, the donor knows exactly whom they are helping. They can even visit the person if they want to or receive regular updates. It’s very clear cut.”

People who don’t have that kind of money but love art might purchase one of the cheaper prints in the gallery, starting at 120 Euros (around $127 USD). If they have hardly any money to spare, they could volunteer their services, for instance, to renovate an apartment, sell the fiftyfifty newspaper or simply buy a subscription online.

As of April 1, Germany had registered around 300,000 refugees from Ukraine, some of which use the same resources as fiftyfifty’s clients. Fiftyfifty has allocated two apartments for Ukrainian families, and Ongaro is on the board of a refugee nonprofit called Stay that fiftyfifty founded 13 years ago. Even with these added pressures, however, Ongaro is convinced that fiftyfifty will reach its goal: “We want to show that we can solve homelessness in this city.” 

The post Home Is Where the Art Is appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

First-Time Buyers Were Undeterred by Rapid Home Price Appreciation in 2021

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/05/2022 - 3:32am in

 young ethnic family looking at a home with house of sale sign and sold over it.

Tight inventories of homes for sale combined with strong demand pushed up national house prices by an eye-popping 19 percent, year over year, in January 2022. This surge in house prices created concerns that first-time buyers would increasingly be priced out of owning a home. However, using our Consumer Credit Panel, which is based on anonymized Equifax credit report data, we find that the share of purchase mortgages going to first-time buyers actually increased slightly from 2020 to 2021.

The housing market was very active last year. As shown below, new purchase mortgage volume increased for the tenth consecutive year since a low in 2011 following the housing bust. We classify a household as a first-time buyer (FTB) if there has never been a mortgage lien on their credit file prior to this purchase mortgage. This provides a more accurate measure of FTBs than the traditional measure, based on not owning a home in the past three years. The number of purchase mortgages originated by FTBs increased from 2.25 million in 2020 to 2.52 million in 2021—an 11.9 percent increase. In contrast, purchase mortgages originated by repeat buyers increased by a slower 7.5 percent—roughly half its 15 percent pace in 2020.

New Purchase Mortgage Volume Continues to Rise

Source: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax.

How did FTBs fare in 2021? As shown by the blue line in the chart below, despite the 19 percent increase in house prices nationally, the FTB share of purchase mortgages increased slightly to 48.3 percent as compared to 47.3 percent in 2020. Using our measure, the FTB share has been steadily rising over the last eight years and is moving closer to its maximum level over the past twenty years of 50.7 percent in 2010. When we divide housing markets by the extent of their house price increases over 2021, we did not find any relationship between the pace of house price increases and the change in the FTB share. Disaggregating by age, we found that the FTB share increased for all ten-year age groups up to age 59.

A broader measure of access to homeownership by FTBs is to look at FTBs as a share of all home purchases, not just those financed by a mortgage. Redfin calculates the percentage of home purchases that are made by all-cash buyers. These buyers include large institutional investors as well as individuals. According to Redfin’s data, cash purchases as a percentage of home purchases increased from 25.3 percent in 2020 to 30 percent in 2021. If we assume that all FTBs finance their purchases with a mortgage, then we can calculate the FTB share of all home purchases. As shown by the red line in the chart below, our broader measure of FTBs’ purchases as a share of all home purchases fell from 35.3 percent in 2020 to 33.8 percent in 2021.

First-Time Buyers’ Share of Mortgages and Home Purchases

Source: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax.

Given the strong increase in house prices, how did FTBs manage to maintain their share of purchase mortgages? As shown in the following chart, the surge in house prices in 2021 resulted in higher purchase mortgage balances for both first-time and repeat buyers. Mortgage balances increased by 13.3 percent for FTBs in 2021, exceeding the prior year’s increase of 8.6 percent.

Average Balance of Purchase Mortgage by Type of Buyer

Source: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax.

What matters is how these higher mortgage balances translate into monthly payments for households. Freddie Mac reports that the average thirty-year FRM mortgage rate in 2021 was 2.96 percent, down modestly from a rate of 3.11 percent in 2020. This decline in the average mortgage rate was not enough to offset all of the higher mortgage balances for FTBs, resulting in the average monthly payment for FTBs increasing by 7.7 percent (from $1,594 per month in 2020 to $1,718 in 2021—an increase of slightly under $1,500 per year). These monthly payments include property taxes and/or homeowners insurance if they are escrowed. However, data from CoreLogic indicate that the average down payment percentage for FTBs rose from 8.5 percent in 2020 to 9.2 percent in 2021. If the decline in the FTB share of home purchases was due to growing affordability challenges, we might have expected the average down payment percentage to have been lower in 2021 than in 2020.

A possible alternative explanation is that the decline in FTBs’ share of home purchases may reflect FTBs being crowded out of the market as the purchase activity by all-cash buyers increased. If this took place, we cannot directly identify these households in our data. We do find that the average age of an FTB increased slightly, rising from 35.7 years in 2020 to 36.4 years in 2021. This might suggest that younger households found it relatively more difficult to compete in the tight housing market of 2021. However, the rise in the average age is well within the year-to-year variation we see in our data over the past decade. The growth in FTB purchase mortgages was also concentrated in conventional mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while the volume of FTB purchase mortgages guaranteed by the FHA/VA remained constant between 2020 and 2021. This could also indicate that the challenges in transitioning to homeownership in 2021 were more acute for households that need to make smaller down payments and therefore use FHA mortgages to finance their home purchase.

The housing market was on fire in 2021, with house prices rising 19 percent nationally. Despite this headwind, the FTB share of purchase mortgages grew slightly, continuing a trend underway since 2013. However, when we factor in all-cash purchases, we find that the FTB share of home purchases declined by 1.5 percentage points. This suggests that the influx of all-cash buyers in 2021 may have crowded out some FTBs.

Donghoon Lee is an economic research advisor in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Donghoon Lee is an economic research advisor in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Joseph Tracy is an executive vice president and senior advisor to the president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

How to cite this post:
Donghoon Lee and Joseph Tracy, “First-Time Buyers Were Undeterred by Rapid Home Price Appreciation in 2021,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics, May 12, 2022, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2022/05/first-time-buyers-....

Disclaimer
The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

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