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Does Affordable Housing Really Need to Be So Scarce in Most Big Cities?

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The Implications of What You've Just Read

1. If affordable housing is so very helpful to the homeless, wouldn't it also be quite helpful to those who must, nowadays, work long hours, often at more than one crappy job, just so that they can afford to live in some second-rate dump instead of being homeless?

2. Why is it that about half of men (ages 30-40) today cannot, in most cities, afford to rent or buy a home that is as nice as the one in which they and their parents lived back in the 60s, 70s or 80s? For more info on this, go here and here.

To better answer the two questions just raised, . .

. . we need to develop a better understanding of what has happened to the cost of higher education and housing over the past 40-50 years, in relation to what has happened to the median wage and employment opportunities, over that same period.

Education

In 1970, a year of tuition at a public university cost $1,207. In the most recent year of data available, 2007, a year of tuition at a public university cost $11,034. That represents an annual average increase of 6.2%, which, if you applied it to the 2007 price, gives you an estimated 2010 cost of a year of education as being $13,216. That's a 994% increase in the cost of a four year degree.

But now let's consider the young person who is earning minimum wage and trying to make it through college. In 1970, you could work 755 hours at a minimum wage job over the course of a year to earn enough to pay for a year of schooling at a public institution -- about 14 hours of work per week.

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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)
 

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