KU News: Study finds US does not have housing shortage, but shortage of affordable housing

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Study finds US does not have housing shortage, but shortage of affordable housing
New research from the University of Kansas finds that most of the nation’s markets have ample housing in total, but nearly all lack enough units affordable to very low-income households. The researchers found only four of the nation’s 381 metropolitan areas experienced a housing shortage in the study time frame, as did only 19 of the country’s 526 “micropolitan” areas — those with 10,000-50,000 residents. The findings suggest that addressing housing prices and low incomes are more urgently needed to address housing affordability issues than simply building more homes, the authors wrote.

 

Annual summer solstice tour of KU medicinal garden set for June 21
The public is invited to the summer semiannual tour of the KU Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden at 7 p.m. June 21, one day after the summer solstice. The garden, situated just east of the Lawrence Municipal Airport, includes research plantings, a large native plant demonstration garden and the KU Community Garden.

 

Frederick Douglass’ relationship with audiences illustrates ‘outsized impact’ of public speaking in politics, scholar says
A new scholarly article examines Frederick Douglass’ relationship as an orator with his audiences — both present and imagined — and how this give-and-take was present during a notable shift in his thinking. “Thinking about audience and the way he was seeing audiences and they were seeing him led him down this road toward reinterpreting the Constitution,” said Laura Mielke. “Today it might be too easy for us to say politics are all about social media and the internet. I would suggest that public speaking still has an outsized impact on the American political scene.”

 

Full stories below.

 

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Contact: Mike Krings, 785-864-8860, [email protected]

Study finds US does not have housing shortage, but shortage of affordable housing
LAWRENCE — The United States is experiencing a housing shortage. At least, that is the case according to common belief — and is even the basis for national policy, as the Biden administration has stated plans to address the housing supply shortfall.

 

But new research from the University of Kansas finds that most of the nation’s markets have ample housing in total, but nearly all lack enough units affordable to very low-income households.

 

Kirk McClure, professor of public affairs & administration emeritus at KU, and Alex Schwartz of The New School co-wrote a study published in the journal Housing Policy Debate. They examined U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 to 2020 to compare the number of households formed to the number of housing units added to determine if there were more households needing homes than units available.

 

The researchers found only four of the nation’s 381 metropolitan areas experienced a housing shortage in the study time frame, as did only 19 of the country’s 526 “micropolitan” areas — those with 10,000-50,000 residents.

 

The findings suggest that addressing housing prices and low incomes are more urgently needed to address housing affordability issues than simply building more homes, the authors wrote.

 

“There is a commonly held belief that the United States has a shortage of housing. This can be found in the popular and academic literature and from the housing industry,” McClure said. “But the data shows that the majority of American markets have adequate supplies of housing available. Unfortunately, not enough of it is affordable, especially for low-income and very low-income families and individuals.”

 

McClure and Schwartz also examined households in two categories: Very low income, defined as between 30% and 60% of area median family income, and extremely low income, with incomes below 30% of area median family income.

 

The numbers showed that from 2010 to 2020, household formation did exceed the number of homes available. However, there was a large surplus of housing produced in the previous decade. In fact, from 2000 to 2020, housing production exceeded the growth of households by 3.3 million units. The surplus from 2000 to 2010 more than offset the shortages from 2010 to 2020.

 

The numbers also showed that nearly all metropolitan areas have sufficient units for owner occupancy. But nearly all have shortages of rental units affordable to the very low-income renter households.

 

While the authors looked at housing markets across the nation, they also examined vacancy rates, or the difference between total and occupied units, to determine how many homes were available. National total vacancy rates were 9% in 2000 and 11.4% by 2010, which marked the end of the housing bubble and the Great Recession. By the end of 2020, the rate was 9.7%, with nearly 14 million vacant units.

 

“When looking at the number of housing units available, it becomes clear there is no overall shortage of housing units available. Of course, there are many factors that determine if a vacant is truly available; namely, if it is physically habitable and how much it costs to purchase or rent the unit,” McClure said. “There are also considerations over a family’s needs such as an adequate number of bedrooms or accessibility for individuals with disabilities, but the number of homes needed has not outpaced the number of homes available.”

 

Not all housing markets are alike, and while there could be shortages in some, others could contain a surplus of available housing units. The study considered markets in all core-based statistical areas as defined by the Census Bureau. Metropolitan areas saw a nationwide surplus of 2.7 million more units than households in the 20-year study period, while micropolitan areas had a more modest surplus of about 300,000 units.

 

Numbers of available housing units and people only tell part of the story. An individual family needs to be able to afford housing, whether they buy or rent. Shortages of any scale appear in the data only when considering renters, the authors wrote. McClure and Schwartz compared the number of available units in four submarkets of each core-based statistical area to the estimated number of units affordable to renters with incomes from 30% to 60% of the area median family income. Those rates are roughly equivalent to the federal poverty level and upper level of eligibility for various rental assistance programs. Only two metropolitan areas had shortages for very-low-income renters, and only two had surpluses available for extremely-low-income renters.

 

Helping people afford the housing stock that is available would be more cost effective than expanding new home construction in the hope that additional supply would bring prices down, the authors wrote. Several federal programs have proven successful in helping renters and moderate-income buyers afford housing that would otherwise be out of reach.

 

“Our nation’s affordability problems result more from low incomes confronting high housing prices rather than from housing shortages,” McClure said. “This condition suggests that we cannot build our way to housing affordability. We need to address price levels and income levels to help low-income households afford the housing that already exists, rather than increasing the supply in the hope that prices will subside.”

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Follow @KUnews for KU News Service stories, discoveries and experts.

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Contact: Kirsten Bosnak, 785-864-6267, [email protected]

Annual summer solstice tour of KU medicinal garden set for June 21
LAWRENCE — The public is invited to the summer semiannual tour of the University of Kansas Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden at 7 p.m. June 21, one day after the summer solstice.

 

The garden, situated just east of the Lawrence Municipal Airport (directions and map), includes research plantings, a large native plant demonstration garden and the KU Community Garden. Garden pathways are ADA-compliant, and the site is open to the public dawn to dusk.

 

Kelly Kindscher, a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research and a professor in the KU Environmental Studies Program, will give an overview of the research gardens and highlight important species. The group will explore the garden and see the work of the Douglas County Extension Master Gardeners, who partner with the research center to manage the garden.

 

The tour will end before dark, but visitors are welcome to stay to watch the sunset or to watch full Strawberry Moon rise at 9:10 p.m.

 

The garden site, established in 2010, serves as a gateway to the KU Field Station, as it is the first of several Field Station sites on East 1600 Road in Douglas County north of Highway 40. Land for the garden was made available by KU Endowment. See the KU Calendar event and the Facebook event page.

 

The KU Field Station, established in 1947, is managed by the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research, a KU designated research center. The core research and operations area of the Field Station, just north of Lawrence, consists of 1,650 acres, with five miles of public trails. The Field Station is a resource for KU students, faculty and staff in the sciences, arts, humanities and professional programs, as well as for visiting researchers and community members.

 

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Contact: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, 785-864-8858, [email protected]

Frederick Douglass’ relationship with audiences illustrates ‘outsized impact’ of public speaking in politics, scholar says

LAWRENCE — The late 18th to the mid-19th century was the golden age of public speaking. Part education, part entertainment, being a good orator was critical — particularly in certain social circles.

 

For writer and reformer Frederick Douglass, public speaking was among the vehicles he used to tell his story of enslavement, to call for abolition and to defend Black Americans’ rights.

 

A new scholarly article from Laura Mielke, “‘The Sea of Upturned Faces’: The Rhetorical Role of Audience in Frederick Douglass’s Constitutional Interpretation at Midcentury,” examines Douglass’ relationship as an orator with his audiences — both present and imagined — and how this give-and-take was present during a notable shift in his thinking.

 

Mielke is the Dean’s Professor of English at the University of Kansas, where she also serves as interim chair of the Department of History. The article appeared in the journal MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States).

 

Douglass was acutely aware of his audiences, both those in the room and the audience that would read written accounts of his oration in newspapers and other publications. In fact, Douglass advised fellow anti-slavery organizers to make sure the venues for lecturers had the audience illuminated.

 

“I imagine how Douglass wanted to see his audience so that he was constantly gauging their reaction, shifting his delivery and his tactics based on what he saw,” Mielke said. “He could shift from fire to comedy, from condemnation to satire.”

 

Mielke, whose scholarship has delved into the impact of theatre on the anti-slavery movement, said Douglass and his contemporaries understood how to leverage the art form’s popularity, even incorporating imitations of pro-slavery preachers and politicians.

 

“We can have a negative connotation with performance, but he was a talented performer,” Mielke said. “He knew it was important for him to perform — to capture imaginations — but also to counter the racist performances of popular theater,” Mielke said.

 

In her article, Mielke explores Douglass’ ideological transformation from seeing the U.S. Constitution as a pro-slavery document to seeing it as an anti-slavery document through the lens his relationships with his audiences. What has otherwise been described as Douglass’ personal and intellectual transformation, Mielke sees having taken place in the presence of his many live audiences, as well as other writers, thinkers, readers and activists.

 

“He had shifted from lectures that were primarily focused on his autobiography to lectures that are more about what he is reading, what others should read — the sense of it being a collective project,” Mielke said. “Thinking about audience and the way he was seeing audiences and they were seeing him led him down this road toward reinterpreting the Constitution.”

 

Particularly in a presidential election year, the term “political theatre” is a charged one. Yet the way candidates relate to and play off their audiences matters, even to those who aren’t present to witness it.

 

“Today it might be too easy for us to say politics are all about social media and the internet,” Mielke said. “I would suggest that public speaking still has an outsized impact on the American political scene.”

 

Case in point, the amount of coverage given to candidates’ audiences as well as the candidates themselves — not unlike newspaper coverage of Douglass in the 1800s.

 

“Live public speaking and its reception are very powerful, even when we are encountering them in a written record,” Mielke said.

 

The written record of Douglass’ life is a particular area of interest for Mielke, who has been involved in KU’s observance of Douglass Day, a nationwide event during which volunteers transcribe documents related to Black history to make the content digitally accessible.

 

“I love participating in Douglas Day because I love looking at old documents and learning about history,” Mielke said. “But I also have a sense that if I’m going to do scholarship in the field of 19th century African American literature I should do something to help sustain it. Anything we can do to help sustain community around the preservation of that history and the dissemination of those documents is important.”

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KU News Service

1450 Jayhawk Blvd.

Lawrence KS 66045

Phone: 785-864-3256

Fax: 785-864-3339

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http://www.news.ku.edu

 

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

 

Today’s News is a free service from the Office of Public Affairs

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