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Is the current housing similar to the 1930's or is it something else

 
gardener
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So I've seen the current housing issues along the West Coast, well at least fron San Fransico to Seattle and it's heartbreaking. Comparing 1930's "Hoover Villes" to contemporary photos are quite similar.  What do you think might be a move forward?
seattle-1937.jpg
[Thumbnail for seattle-1937.jpg]
 
pollinator
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I think the United States is headed toward a massive decline and far too many will suffer horribly.
 
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A few days ago, I spoke with a family member who was a boy in the 1930’s. He told me about his neighborhood in Lincoln, Nebraska. Prior to the depression, the area was growing and families purchased city lots with the intent to build their homes. When the economy tanked and people lost their jobs, they continued to work on their homes using resources that they could buy, repurpose, or creatively source. In this part of the country, basements were common. The families dug out and built their basements using what resources they could pull together: horses, shovels, block, brick. Fire places, chimneys, water hookups, sewage connections proceeded by hand, slowly. Roofs were temporary, improvised or part of the future first floor. The families on this block lived in their basements through the ‘30s: subterranean dwellings.
I never lived in the 1930’s, but it seems to me that resourceful, creative, adaptable people were around then and are finding their way now.
A way forward? Focus on those people who are steadfastly digging in, building their foundations, and planting things that will be around in a hundred years. Those basements in Lincoln are still there, hidden by above-ground homes and shaded by massive trees.
 
pollinator
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I find it interesting looking at the picture.  I was born in the mid 60's My parents first home was 2 room, outhouse a ways away from the house, water from a 500 gallon cistern with a hand pump with all household water hauled from town nearly 10 miles away, laundry done either with a ringer washer and clothes line or taken to the laundromat in town.  In its original form it would have looked much like the homes in the picture.  First winter they ran without heat.  In winter to bring water in the first step was to melt ice on the stove to prime the hand pump, pump the water and then use it before it froze.
 
Robert Ray
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My parents grew up in similar conditions C.. I'm spoiled by convenience compared to how life was just a generation ago. The cost of infrastructure has elevated the cost of housing. The system development charges for sewer, water, roads in Bend OR are 23,000.00 dollars on top of the cost of building a single unit house. I have a one-acre lot that has a house on it near Bend, I wanted to split and let my daughter build on.  After research they now allow a Small EDU (extra dwelling unit) of less than 800 SQ ft that cuts those fees in half. I'll probably go that route. I hope that in the future grey water use and composing toilets would reduce those fees but I don't think that will ever happen.
 
pollinator
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elle sagenev wrote:I think the United States is headed toward a massive decline and far too many will suffer horribly.



I agree, and I think it's likely to be worse than the 30s because so few people have practical skills. I mean, here at permies, you can earn a badge or handwashing dishes!!!
I'm about to turn 50 and I did learn a fair amount of skills from my parents, but there's a lot I didn't. My mom canned her garden produce but didn't teach me, maybe somewhat her fault, but mostly mine. Really, the way the world looked in the 80s that didn't seem like something I was going to need to know. My dad could wire a house, and I didn't learn that at all, granted he learned that at technical school and not at home. But all of my grandparents also knew things they didn't teach my parent. One grandfather was a farmer, who grew and raised a very wide range of items. My other grandfather was a blacksmith. My grandmothers made cheese and sauerkraut and even preserved fish. My mother never made those.
While I have knowledge none of my grandparents did, especially digital skills, like splicing audios together, editing digital photos, etc. Those things are less likely to feed me in the face of economic collapse.
I now live in Mexico, and every day I see houses that are pieced together from scavenged items, and I also see people who self-build their own houses one room at a time.  I also frequently drive my unfinished shells of grand homes that were begun sometime more than 20 years ago, and but for whatever reason were never finished, most likely the money ran out, and stopped coming.

I think what we need to be worried about it affordable housing that is poorly made so just becomes unlivable junk that needs to be bulldozed away in 20 years.  I'm actually not familiar with the west coast, but the McMansions of the midwest and southeast need to be retrofitted. We need housing that can be easily shared, with grow up kids, with aging relatives, with friends, with whoever. Designs that are accessible so they don't need to be retrofitted when someone becomes less mobile.  Also a return to joint use (commercial residential) properties. My guilty pleasure is watching British Home renovation programs. It started with a love of history, but at the beginning o the pademic I found myself in desperate need to renovate my own home, as it was a rather two bedroom house for a family of five that basically, only came home to eat then sleep in it. And suddenly we found ourselves trying to teach and study there all day long. British homes, like Europe in General are much smaller than US of A homes, many on narrow lots where you can't just build on. So I found these shows a great source of inspiration. One new development there is turning the from room, which maybe had been a victorian "reception room" for guests into the home office. Some people might be working from home and need to occasionally receive clients or coworkers into their home office.  I thought that was genius, a way to keep work and home separate while working at home.
Another thing I've seen, and I do believe this was on the west coast, was changing zoning to allow for a tiny house on every suburban lot.  This could be for retired parents, or young adults living with their parents, or it could be rented out as a source of income.
My family's farm had two houses, the big house and the little house and generations went back and forth. My father grew up in the big house, and his oldest brother, her wife and their first two children lived in the little house until my father (the youngest sibling) moved out, then his parents moved into the little house and my uncle's family moved into the big house. I was led to believe this had happened several times in the past.
 
pollinator
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I don't really see that anywhere from the Bay Area to where I am now in southern Oregon. Many areas have large homeless encampments but no real housing like that. I would love to see a change to allow more tiny houses on suburban lots where they have plenty of room.

Southern Oregon is experiencing a fair amount of growth and with that new housing. There is a large housing tract in Eagle Point just north of Medford that they have been continuing to build since we moved here 3 years ago. Even the small town that I live outside of is rigid with tiny houses or even RV's, although they did lift the RV restrictions after the fires to help out with temporary housing.

That being said I do think that the US is in a state of decline and that most are not prepared.
 
Robert Ray
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I think housing costs are a major component in the homeless problem. There is work in our area but no place for one to live. I've seen people make their own jobs and thrive, why do some have the drive? Drug use and availability contributes to some of it, but not all. The onerous position of being homeless could be overwhelming to one's spirit.  I'm curious to see what the next few years bring.
 
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In the 1950's "housing" was for living in. When the baby boomers all started buying their first homes, there was a gradual change into "housing is an investment", that's now changed further for many people to "housing is collateral to borrow money against". This has radically shifted what housing looks like, what's advertised as "house beautiful" rather than "house functional" or "house to actually DO things in rather than just store stuff you rarely use".

I'm sure there are areas where the issues of the 1930's are starting to play out, but the whole basis of our economic system is showing cracks. Municipal rules in North America have focused on single family dwellings to the exclusion of a more balanced mix of large and small, rental and owned, all because of the attitude that a "cheap" house in the neighborhood, will drag down the value of the big houses, and it was all about the "value" of the house, not how good it is to live in. Undoing that is a slow process, but in my Municipality they have upgraded rules about "secondary suites" - allowing a rental apartment to be be built into a larger home. As Melissa identified though, sometimes the now empty-nester owners, are the ones moving into the new "suite" and they're renting out the larger part of the home.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Jay - so true. My house in the suburbs was built in the 50's. The original house was maybe 1300 sf, three bedroom, 1 bath, very well designed, all good livable space in a small footprint. When we bought it in 1998, it was 1650 sf, still very well designed, 4 bedroom, 2 bath and a family room.

The houses on my rural property built in the 80's. One house is 2400 sf, 4 bedroom, 2 bath, terrible design, too much dead space. My house is 1600 sf, 2 bedroom, 2 bath, again terrible design, and difficult to rearrange well, although I am trying.
 
Robert Ray
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I remember neighborhood markets slowly being pushed out by the "Mini-Mart" phenomena of gas and snack foods rather than small market grocery stores.  A business in amongst dwellings.
 
pollinator
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I heartily agree with Jay and Stacey:  "Jay - so true. My house in the suburbs was built in the 50's. The original house was maybe 1300 sf, three bedroom, 1 bath, very well designed, all good livable space in a small footprint."  I am also a bit fed up with comparisons of "back then".

A few years ago I did a comparison of minimum wage vs cost of rental a one bedroom rental, in Vancouver (for those familiar, the West End by Stanley Park, one of the pricier options), arguably the most expensive city in Canada for real estate.

1980's hourly wage: $3.50/$4.75  ( http://srv116.services.gc.ca/dimt-wid/sm-mw/rpt2.aspx ); monthly paycheck $560/$760; my rent $400-$600 (OLD, three story walk up, no elevator, no view, absolute cheapest I could find).

2022 minimum hourly wage: $15.20; monthly paycheck $2432; 1 bedroom rental in same area: $2,100 is now the average rate, adjust that for my "cheapest" rent possible, and we are in the same ballpark.

Math is not my strong suit, but to say "housing has gotten too expensive" is a complete myth, in my opinion; as pay packets have increased, so have rent costs.  Granted, I was a waitress at a greasy spoon, and yes there were tips, which on average was about $10-$20 a shift, and yes, that was how I paid for everything beyond rent. I chose to live in a pricier area (walk to work and groceries, no bus or car costs), alone, in a one bedroom - the same options are available today, choose what is important and make it work.

Yes, I get it, the bank people say one should never spend more than 20-30 % of ones monthly earnings on rent, well I say phooey!  That is a nice thought, and a great goal, but that was my reality, and that is the reality of most of us, just starting out.  When I bought my half acre in my mid thirties, it was a piece of crap, falling down, 1960's trailer, essentially no heat, rotting floors.  Almost 20 yrs later it is paid off, with a new (now 7 yr old) home on it.  I did over ten years with no heat, scrimping every month to make mortgage, driving a car at least 20 yrs old, no vacations...  I do not regret a moment of it now, nor did I then; yet all those who were snickering at my beater car are just now purchasing a home, and will not have it paid off before they die.  

While I really could not see myself in a Tiny House at my age, I would have loved that as a 20 something!  When we had this home built we settled on just over 1400 sq feet, 3 bed, 2 bath.  Everyone was shocked, as around here 2500-3500 is the norm, and 5000-7500 sq ft is in no way unusual.  Are there some areas I would have added a bit, sure (forgot to leave room in the Owners Bedroom for a bench at the foot of the bed, but other than that), but in the end, not really. Frankly, why anyone would want to clean and be responsible for a home larger than needed is quite beyond my comprehension.

It is all about choices, there is definitely some truth in a little suffering breeds resilience, and frankly a good chunk of pride and self worth.

It seems there is a ridiculous percentage these days staying home into their thirties, and beyond.  Contrary the popular vernacular, most are NOT saving for a home, but with no rent they can afford the newest cars, phones and toys, take regular vacations (often multiple times a year), and sport the latest fashion - often the kids swag is NICER than the parents they are sponging from.  The parents feel they have no choice as rents are "so high" and their precious baby must not have to make any sacrifice to attain any level of self sufficiency, so they do not even charge them rent, or otherwise make them EARN their free room and board.

I really think a good proportion of the upcoming generation(s) do honestly come by their "snowflake" designation...they are just to fragile to withstand the rigors of reality.  A little suffering in ones youth goes a long way to appreciating life and having pride in ones self and accomplishments in the long run.  We all should do our time living on ramen noodles!
 
Stacy Witscher
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Lorinne - I think it's a little of both. Some areas the prices are insane. My childhood home now sells for $3 million. But my parents bought it prior to Silicon Valley. I could have never afforded to stay in Palo Alto, but just across the Bay, my home in San Lorenzo was much more reasonable. We bought it in 1998 for $190,000, and sold it 3 years ago for $660,000.

3 of my 4 kids currently live on the property with me. My oldest and I bought the place together. My youngest is moving back to the Bay after they get married. My 3rd kid is working, helping out and just finished writing their first novel. They just don't care that much about money or about having their own place, although they have lived elsewhere before.

Personally, I've never understood the appeal of moving out on your own, but I don't try to control my kids lives. We really like living in community with each other. I've always envied other cultures extended family groups. So that's what we are trying to do. But to each their own.
 
Robert Ray
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I think many people have hard times.  The homelessness isn't just young people, or people with addictions, easy access to drugs not helping. Not all of the homeless are criminals but there is that element.
A single parent household living from paycheck to paycheck that has an automotive failure could easily be screwed.
Being able to walk to work, work from home, shop in your neighborhood is reasonable, intelligent and more often discussed in city planning now. Small starter cottages for new/young families would also work for aging homeowners.
 The median house price in Bend Oregon is roughly 575,000.00 now. We built our house prior to Covid's inflated material cost. Materials to build the house was 65,000.00. Even living on ramen noodles or crab as I did in college when I lived near the ocean is not going to get me into a house in Bend.
Someone used the term "Feral Families" describing the homeless and it's sad but kinda true. I've been lucky, I've also worked hard to obtain my property.
What would a transitional safe, clean, encampment for lack of a better term look like?
 
Lorinne Anderson
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We have a large homeless population here. The government has purchased old hotels and created shipping Container encampments where they get help transitioning to real accommodation.
 
Robert Ray
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Back in the early 80's my older brother worked as a draftsman for an RV trailer company. They did some prototypes for offshore drilling derricks. They essentially made a slide in trailer without a skin that went into a steel box, much like a shipping container. The end was welded on and it made a transportable lego like component for the crew of the drilling rig. I wonder if that would be a cost-efficient conversion.
 
Robert Ray
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Here is an interesting story involving UC Berkeley and California in general about under building. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/nimbyism-reaches-its-apotheosis/ar-AAUlbAQ?ocid=msedgntp
 
pollinator
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It's something I'm working on myself & I'd like to remain in the same general area I've always been, with my brothers & their kids.

I definitely want a good bit of land. I grew up with two side-by-side homes owned by family, with a net land total of about 30 acres which was backed up to a nature/ hunting area on the opposite side of a small river & I've never done particularly well with other people. Can't have that home, though.

Within just the last year since COVID hit, home prices have mostly doubled, even tripled. Even undeveloped land is being priced at tens of thousands of dollars for just a couple acres with nothing on it, yet I allegedly live in an area where no one wants to live whose city councils are struggling to keep residents interested in sticking around. Makes no sense. My brother bought a house not five years ago for a little over $20,000. Now, I can't find a single place under $160,000, & most are in that $200,000-600,000 range for places which in no way, shape or form are worth that much.

I'm going to wait it out, though, & see what ends up happening in the long run. The way out economy works isn't stable, it has constant highs & lows & no matter what, whoever is selling these houses will understand eventually that NO ONE can afford this or will attempt to buy what they're selling if they keep jacking prices beyond reason. I don't want to rent for the rest of my life. I want to own where I live. But, I also refuse to allow myself to be extorted into permanent debt just for the right to a home, personal security & privacy.
 
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