Tent city at University Congregational United Church of Christ, October 2010. (Photo by Jenna Montgomery)
As the human economy moves back within the limits of Earth’s systems—whether through proactive degrowth or unplanned economic contraction—the residential housing market in overdeveloped countries like the United States will surely evolve.
Without planning it could take a similar tack as the former Soviet Union, where the poor were priced out of the increasingly valuable urban core. Or it could look more like Las Vegas or Phoenix during the housing crisis, where people just walked away from mortgages that were suddenly larger than the worth of their homes. Second homes could be abandoned, larger homes traded for smaller manageable homes, and the poorest could end up in tent cities like the one documented in Tent City U.S.A.
But hopefully, instead, we’ll work now to make residential neighborhoods denser so that they don’t become unnavigable without cars and cheap gasoline. What strategies could we use to do so? Should we work to add additional generations into family homes, or perhaps build smaller rental homes in backyards like many towns and cities in the Pacific Northwest are doing? Clearly not an either/or strategy. I explore both possibilities in a new Guardian Sustainable Business blog. Read more there.