darkmetinenephelae  asked:

I have this magic alt-world with generic capitalism, and I know that at one point a Cool Dude created a building specifically for homeless people with small rooms and magically sustained utilities. I was considering making this building magically infinite (a bigger challenge for the dude but possible) and I was wondering how it'd affect the economy to have infinite free housing? would it destroy capitalism or just change prices? how would effects on the housing market affect the average Joe?

This is a difficult one. While your guy is a certified Cool Dude™ and I applaud them wholeheartedly, if your characters can do stuff like this on a whim, I think they’ll end up at least partially breaking the economy.

The problem can be explained through one of the very basics of economics: supply and demand. Ignoring complicating factors, infinite free supply of a good or service means no-one is going to be willing to pay money for the same product. So if your infinite housing is of good quality, absolutely no-one will be willing to pay money for housing. However, since you’ve said that the rooms are small, people may be willing to cough up more money in the traditional housing market for more space/rooms/nicer facilities etc.

Now, obviously this isn’t something that could happen in the real world, so everything I’m suggesting is educated guessing. But I’d say it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see two parallel markets forming: your guy’s free but small rooms, and the bigger fancier suburb-style houses of the rich. After all, it would save governments a lot of money if they could refuse to pay for council housing/rent benefits by funnelling people into infinite free housing. I suspect you’d get the middle/upper classes living in their own homes, with a great deal of poorly paid single mothers/students/homeless people/working class families in this magical housing. As a result of this poor quality, shoddy and over-priced but grim housing will probably have no market, as people will simply move into the free housing.

And if people who usually struggle to make the rent suddenly have a lot of money to spend, that should give a big boost to other areas of the economy. Thousands of extra pounds per family could go to new cars, nicer clothes, better quality groceries, more toys and gadgets etc. etc. all of which will help consumption and economic growth.

I’m really struggling to argue that this would greatly affect the housing market for the average Joe that can afford his own accommodation that’s nicer than the free stuff. It might make it a little cheaper due to slightly less demand, but I honestly don’t know. Your world, your rules I guess.

I hope this helped you out somewhat! Good luck in your writing pursuits, and high five your Cool Dude™ for me!

I end up reading a lot of home living magazines while waiting in doctor’s offices and such, and based on the articles contained therein, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a chunk of the population for whom financial planning is basically performance art - and I don’t think they actually realise it.

Like, just today I spotted an article about a case study in creating affordable home-building solutions by assembling houses out of old shipping containers. I’m figuring, all right, sort of a low-income housing initiative, right?

What I actually ended up reading was a rambling story that starts with the owner borrowing fifty thousand dollars from her parents to pay for materials and permits, off-handedly mentions getting her architect stepfather to draw up the plans for her, continues with her three brothers - all of them experienced builders due to overseeing their own hobby renovation projects - taking a week off work to help her put the place together, and caps off with a funny anecdote about how come the first winter, all the plumbing froze, so she had to go live with her mom for a few months anyway.

Basically, she used her family connections to score an interest-free five-figure loan, access to rare expertise, and hundreds of hours of free skilled labour, and plowed it all into a cramped, ugly playhouse that’s only livable for part of the year.

The unfathomable part is, based on how how the article framed the whole thing, it’s clear that both the subject and the author honestly believe that they’ve discovered some sort of amazing money-saving life hack. They’re seriously convinced that this is the magic-bullet solution to the country’s affordable housing shortage, and not an expensive and impractical vanity project that ultimately failed to produce a house people can actually live in.

Just blows my mind. And this is the segment of the population that basically all of our politicians and business leaders are drawn from!

When Residents Take Ownership, A Mobile Home Community Thrives
A neighborhood in Minnesota is proving that there's a potential solution to run-down mobile home parks: The residents banded together democratically and purchased their community.

Typically, the companies that own mobile home parks also own the infrastructure, and the less money they spend maintaining it, the more profit they can make. Housing specialists say that’s one of the main reasons why many manufactured home parks look worn down and scruffy — like Park Plaza did before they formed a co-op.

Many people love to blame the bad conditions in most trailer parks on some sort of pathology of the residents, but if you give the residents control and more power over their homes and cut out more landlords, things dramatically improve.

Hillary Clinton: “In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said back in 2006, ‘Gee, I hope it does collapse cause then I can go in and makes some money.’ Well it did collapse.”

Donald Trump: “That’s called ‘business,’ by the way.

Hillary Clinton: “Nine million people lost their jobs. Five million people lost their homes. Thirteen trillion dollars in family wealth was wiped out.”


If you had strolled one Saturday afternoon through the Park Plaza neighborhood in Fridley, Minn., you might have thought you were at just another block party. The residents were milling around a picnic buffet on folding tables on the street in front of their houses and the American flag. Kids were tossing beanbags and shouting. Neighbors were delivering Jell-O and marshmallow salad, and a pot of pork, cilantro and beans.

But this was not an ordinary picnic. Residents were celebrating the fifth anniversary of a major achievement that could inspire similar communities across the country: The day they began to take more control of their lives.

Park Plaza is a mobile home park, or what industry calls a manufactured housing community. Five years ago, the residents banded together, formed a nonprofit co-op and bought their entire neighborhood from the company that owned it. Today, these residents exert democratic control over almost 9 acres of prime suburbs, with 80 manufactured houses sited on them.

“It’s pretty wild,” says Carleton Dahl, one of the resident-owners, as he eats a hot dog. “Been a big change around here.”

Picture a mobile home community, and your image might look like Park Plaza. Most homes are white, brown or gray rectangles, with aluminum siding and pickup trucks parked in front. Some homes are bordered with flowers. Others have piles of junk.

There are no precise figures, but the U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are more than 8 million manufactured houses across the country. Housing specialists say they’re an important source of affordable housing.

“Where else could you live close to a city for this kind of money?” asks Natividad Seefeld, the elected (and unpaid) president of Park Plaza.

When Residents Take Ownership, A Mobile Home Community Thrives

This story is the second in a two-part report on conditions at mobile home parks in the U.S. Read part one here.

Photos: Bridget Bennett for NPR