Jeff Wood
Urban Reads

Does Fear of New Apartments Fuel the Housing Crisis?

All the city news you can use.

By - Mar 25th, 2023 10:18 am
Rendering of a proposal for a new apartment building at 2700 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The proposal faced opposition in 2018-2019 and didn't advance. Rendering by RINKA.

Rendering of a proposal for a new apartment building at 2700 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The proposal faced opposition in 2018-2019 and didn’t advance. Rendering by RINKA.

Every day at The Overhead Wire we sort through over 1,500 news items about cities and share the best ones with our email list. At the end of the week, we take some of the most popular stories and share them with Urban Milwaukee readers. They are national (or international) links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Is Apartment-phobia driving the housing crisis?: Over the last ten years, the number of housing units per 1,000 people in the United States has fallen, leading to a huge shortage of housing. The number of households is increasing making the problem even more acute. Eric Levitz believes that the shortage is in part caused by a phobia of apartments written into zoning codes over time. The enforcement of these codes he says likely reinforce the antipathy towards high density development that continues. (Eric Levitz | New York Magazine)

It’s getting harder for Americans to afford to drive: As income inequality in the United States becomes more pronounced, more and more people are unable to afford to drive in a country that has designed itself to make it mandatory in most places to access jobs, schools, and health care. New research has found that wealth is a big determinant in whether an individual has access to a car. Among the poorest in America, half of their trips occur without motorized transportation. (Matthew Rozsa | Salon)

We should not commodify natural light: The idea of windowless bedrooms as a way to build more housing and solve our shortages has been promoted by profit seeking developers, billionaire dorm designers, and the usual self proclaimed centrists. But Kate Wagner argues that the commodification of sunlight should not even be allowed into anyone’s thought process and the real reasons for housing shortages are political not because bedrooms can’t have windows. (Kate Wagner | The Nation)

Walking around is empowering for children: In 2019, Holly Weir of Westminster University spent time with kids asking them about how they traveled and how being able to walk around their neighborhoods impacted them. What she found in this limited sample of children, was that having the autonomy of walking around gave them a greater sense of well being and navigational skills. (Holly Weir | The Conversation)

SEPTA ends King of Prussia project: SEPTA cancelled its King of Prussia rail extension after the Federal Transit Administration passed on awarding the agency funding for the project. The project was expected to cost $3B and only serve around 10,000 riders. But the cancellation also boosted hopes of local advocates hoping to reconsider the Roosevelt Boulevard subway extension which has been getting more attention and recent press coverage. (Thomas Fitzgerald | Philadelphia Inquirer)

Quote of the Week

Sprawl comes at a cost, and for decades parents have been paying the price. The cost is literal, yes, but it’s also figurative, or maybe just less visible. The lost time with friends who live just a little out of the way, the daily stress of wrangling your kids to take them anywhere, the economic vulnerability of owning and maintaining a car if you’re already struggling with food and housing. If you think I’m exaggerating the profound impact of cars on our daily lives, take this into account: In states that have raised the age of children in car seats, the chance of parents having a third child decreases.

Erin Sagen in Romper discussing why she believes raising kids would be easier without cars.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined again by Dr. Jennifer Kent, senior research fellow in Urbanism at the University of Sydney, to talk about her work on family transportation, the messiness of travel for parents, and loneliness and the built environment.

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