2024-07-19 11:57 AM

How Serious Is The Housing Crisis?

Attendees at Tuesday’s monthly luncheon of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce at the Italian Cafe may have come away a little queasy this time, but they can rest assured that it had nothing to do with the always tasty and reliable food. A message of self-described “doom and gloom” by the speaker, Dr. Keith Waters of Dr. Stephen Fuller’s Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University was more likely the culprit.

Indeed, Dr. Waters, young and affable on the outside as a mentee of the legendary Dr. Fuller, dished out a troubling bouillabaisse of sobering data about the economic trends now operational for our area that he intended, he said, to be downright disturbing. It was like that TV ad on Type 2 diabetes, dark, bleak and foreboding with the announcer saying, “Too much? That’s the point!”

While the numbers on jobs, housing, employment, economic growth and the rest show the region trending below the national average, with Northern Virginia faring better than elsewhere in this region and Falls Church, even as a tiny blip in the regional numbers, still better than what’s around it. But while Dr. Waters deliberately had no specific formula for fixing everything, it didn’t take much for him to alight upon affordable housing as a main culprit.

It seems that people around here simply refuse to admit that the issue – affordable housing – is anything serious more than an appeal to generosity, something which for less-generous souls is little more than a nuisance. But as the nation reboots after the Covid-19 pandemic, and a wide array of new technologies are being introduced with the potential to reshape a lot of our habits, the issue of housing is directly linked to regional viability and prospects for success.

Clearly, folks generally just don’t want to admit that the problem is nearly as serious as it actually is, especially in terms of projecting economic winners and losers over the few years immediately ahead of us. If we’re going to have to get used to a little crowding, then so be it. Falls Church has a way to go yet before encountering the kind of crowding experienced in Hong Kong (now, that’s quote to scream over.) It is not worth trying to convince people that density is their friend, unless they can see it not only as a virtue, but in contrast to what they will be subjected to if housing needs are not met.

What’s happening with the homeless crisis in America now is a crisis of the first order. We hold that everyone has a right to a roof over their head and maybe it needs to be a campaign rallying cry somewhere. Serious efforts to step up to this crisis is the least we should expect.

In the meantime, it is a source of deep shame that our nation has allowed this crisis to come as far as it has already.

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