The most recent HIVE Conference in Austin in November 2018 focused on bringing together a diverse agency of housing stakeholders to collaborate on solutions for more affordable housing. Here, Richard Florida from CityLab, also dissects the data pointing to the issue and presents cities across the globe that are approaching the same issue with different solutions.

Florida asks how to apply these practices in the US to boost the economy.

Housing is a big part of America’s story of innovation, productivity, and economic growth. For much of the industrial 20th century, housing helped to drive the economy by stimulating demand. Building more housing—especially in the suburbs—stoked the demand for more cars, washing machines, and other durable goods from America’s factories, creating good jobs for American workers and setting in motion a virtuous circle of economic growth.

But housing plays a very different role in today’s knowledge economy, where innovation and growth stimulate the clustering of knowledge, talent, and ideas. As a growing chorus of economists point out, the problem today is that we do not have enough housing—especially affordable housing—in the expensive and productive locations that drive the economy. The economic consequences often mean unskilled workers are unable to access good jobs in these cities, which costs the economy a huge amount in lost productivity.

A new study by The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution documents the dimensions of the housing-productivity nexus today and outlines a variety of possible solutions for all three levels of government, informed by innovative initiatives forged in places within and outside of the United States.

The chart below details the scope of the problem. For much of the 20th century, economic outcomes were converging across the United States. But that began to change by the 1970s, with the decline in manufacturing and the onset of the knowledge economy, as the economies of U.S. regions began to diverge.

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