Subsidized luxury housing for the middle class?

Plus, Taco Bell debuts its subscription for a free taco a day

Sep 15, 2021 | Current events | Real estate
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The missing middle

Goodbye, pandemic rent discounts. In 2021, US rent prices have soared 7.5%, three times higher than normal. Due to a short supply of homes, California’s affordable housing crisis is especially dire. So some state agencies are buying luxury buildings, then lowering the rent.

What can someone expect when they move in? At one complex in downtown Long Beach, you’ll find a clubhouse with chilled wine on tap, a 24-hour gym, and a swimming pool. All for up to $1,200 less per month in rent than the complex typically charges. The programs target the “missing middle,” i.e. workers who make too much to qualify for traditional subsidized housing but still struggle to afford a place near their jobs.

So far, three government agencies have purchased more than 20 buildings, totaling more than 6,000 units in cities across California, and brought rents down by double-digit percentages in Long Beach and Pasadena. These “workforce housing” programs are partly funded by local property taxes, but not everyone is buying in: some argue that the cities may never be repaid, while others question whether the rent cuts are enough to make an impact.


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