Some things are alike all over

LGM discusses a housing crisis in one Colorado resort town: the wealthy are buying up vacation homes, then turning them into rental properties, which is easier than ever with AirBnB and similar services. The demand for rentals has now used up the affordable supply of housing, so many people who work in town have to camp out in the woods.

This sounds oddly reminiscent of the stretch of Northwest Florida I used to call home. 25 years ago, a decent rental was pretty affordable—$500 would get you somewhere quite satisfactory and even $200 would get you something you could live with. But as tourism began to boom, all the development went into catering to that market: condo properties, luxury homes, rental properties. A real-estate agent friend of mine said he’d worked with a guy who wanted to build some affordable housing the other side of the Choctaw Bay from Destin, which is a tourist town with almost no affordable rentals (“If you work here, you can’t afford to live here.”); everything in the area had been bought and reserved for pricey projects.

This, of course, puts heavy pressure on the existing rental stock, particularly as Eglin AFB increased its staffing levels. When I looked at moving out of the tiny home where I used to live (a duplex with almost no space, no dishwasher,no central a.c., butbut under $250 it was a real find), kthere was nothing I could afford. I’d probably have been there until I moved up here except a)my friend Dusty proposed we find a place together and b)another friend had let me move into their rental townhouse pretty much at cost.

I doubt the situation is improving because the population is only going to grow.

Likewise, beachfront property owners insisting their ownership extends into the water have been locking horns with beachgoers for well over a decade. And some of them are not above warning people off their property or making it really hard to access the public access. In fairness, there are plenty of stories of people trespassing on private property too.

And plenty of people dislike living next door to vacation rental properties. What sometimes happens is that a crowd of spring breakers will fill up a house in a single-family neighborhood, take up all area parking, leave garbage piled out front instead of waiting for trash day and blast loud music (Destin has some ordinances in place to fight that). There are also cases where people have rented their house out to immigrant workers, sometimes warehousing twenty or more. Great for business, bad for the area.

Of them all, I think the affordable housing issue is the one that puts the biggest burden on people and it’s the hardest to solve in practice (i.e., when resistance to any sort of regulation or aid is taken into account).

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Filed under economics, Politics

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