A governor who wants to build a lot of starter homes, an unlikely choice for Person of the Year and Jamie Dimon’s cantankerous slam of cryptocurrency. From the wild and wooly world of real estate, here are the hits and misses for the week of Dec. 4-8.
Hit: A Governor Who Listens. The political hero of the week, at least regarding housing, was Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and his bold plan to build 35,000 starter homes by 2028. Cox set forth a number of proposals surrounding this plan, including funding for an infrastructure bank that will finance the public water, sewer and roadway construction needed for so many homes plus an additional $50 million for a first-time homebuyer assistance program to help newcomers to homeownership. “The fact is, the single greatest threat to our future prosperity, the American dream and our strong communities is the price of housing,” Cox said during a meeting with community leaders and homebuilders. “Our kids will never be able to call Utah home if we don’t start building starter homes again.” At last, an elected official who understands the housing market!
Miss: Warped Priorities? Also this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new initiatives during this week’s U.N. Climate Conference to address clean energy in the housing market, including a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to partner in the reduction of carbon emissions in the building sector and membership in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s United States Global Change Research Program, which is focused on scientific research related to global climate change. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge declared that these efforts “underscore our strong and enduring commitment to energy efficiency and climate resiliency for our nation’s communities, homes, buildings, and infrastructure.” Well, considering how little she has done to address the deep problems that impact the nation’s housing market, it is understandable why Fudge wants to talk about climate change rather than the lack of affordable homeownership opportunities or the dismal state of public housing.
Miss: This is a Joke, Right? Earlier this week, Time Magazine identified nine candidates for its Person of the Year honors. Some choices were predictable – Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, King Charles III, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman – but one choice was not like the others: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Well, Powell is the unique public figure who has united liberals and conservatives – both sides of the aisle think he’s incompetent. Mercifully, Powell’s time as a candidate was strictly “transitory” and the magazine opted for Taylor Swift, the rare public figure that everyone likes.
Hit: From Jailhouse Rock to Home Sweet Home. While some folks believe in repurposing office buildings, hotels and malls into multifamily housing, New York City is taking a different approach. The former Lincoln Correctional Facility in the Harlem section of Manhattan is being sought for repurposing as a multifamily complex, with 105 homeownership units which would be affordable to households earning 80% and 100% of area median income (AMI) and require only a 5% down payment to purchase. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul welcomed the proposal as an example of her “commitment to increasing New York’s housing supply. My administration is continuing to follow the recommendations of the Prison Redevelopment Commission and reimagine what’s possible at underutilized jails and prisons.”
Hit: Grumpy Old Man. No one ever accused JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon of being funny, but this week he had thousands of people across the Internet laughing at his cranky condemnation of cryptocurrency. During an appearance before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Dimon took the bait from left-wing darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren and growled, “I’ve always been deeply opposed to crypto, bitcoin, etc. The only true use case for it is criminals, drug traffickers … money laundering, tax avoidance. If I was the government, I’d close it down.” The banker’s name has been floated as a possible candidate for president, but based on that response it would seem Dimon needs more polishing before he should put his hands on the reins of government.
Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at [email protected].
Photo courtesy Fortune Global Forum / Flickr Creative Commons