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Housing for Us
62 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
Renting with Germany’s forever leases in gentrifying Berlin | Cribs
In Germany, rental leases for apartments last forever, until the tenant wants to move out. It’s common for people to live for decades in the same rented apartment, and it’s even possible for children to inherit a rental lease when their parents pass on. Apartments are high quality and well-maintained. Germany is one of the best countries in the world to be a renter, and it’s no wonder that many Germans choose to rent when they could afford to buy a home. We talk to Friederiche, who has been living in the same rented apartment in Berlin for more than 20 years. This was the only home her children knew until they grew up and moved off on their own. She describes her front room (the “salon”) as being a “ballroom.” She and her husband live in a very desirable neoclassical building, which was built in the 1870s. Were her apartment placed on the free market, she estimates the landlord could get double or triple rent. We wanted to know what it is like to live with a forever lease. When we asked Friederiche if she knew anyone who was forced to move out of their apartment when they didn’t want to, she couldn’t think of anyone. When we asked if there was something she would change about renting in Germany, she couldn’t come up with anything. Anja Notanja was our cohost. She always has engrossing projects in writing, visual arts, on stage, and on the radio. She is working on a shadow puppetry show. Her main project is her podcast Subtle Forces. Her Instagram is also highly recommended. Here’s that article we mentioned on Berlin’s new rent regulations. Music by Spencer Jennich and Matt Krco. Image: a pair of neoclassical apartments in Berlin. Flickr / Helran
62 minutes | Feb 18, 2021
1/3 of renters move every year??? | fixer-upper
Rental housing in the US is extremely insecure. Per data from the Census Bureau, over the past decade, between one in four and one in five renter households moved every year. The 2013 American Housing Survey (also done by the Census Bureau) found that just over 50% of renters had moved within the past 2 years. But the Census Bureau also reports that we are at “historically low” levels of renters moving. Until this most recent decade, around a third of all renter households moved every year. We talk to Nick, our organization’s treasurer, who moved 9 or 10 times as a child (so many times he can’t remember exactly how many). He said that if his family had a quality home at a price they could afford, they would never have moved once his entire childhood. Nick’s mom was employed full time as a receptionist, and he lived the majority of his childhood in a well-to-do suburb. Housing instability isn’t about poverty, and it isn’t confined to urban areas. Rental housing in the US is extremely unstable. We discuss what it was like to move so frequently as a child, as well as the difficulty of building community and a sense of belonging without stable housing. Special thanks to cohost Thomas Johnston of Crypt Creepers. Music by Matt Krco. In addition to Census Bureau data, we also discussed this research paper.
69 minutes | Dec 21, 2020
Mitchell-Lama Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives | Cribs
The amazing story of New York State’s most successful affordable housing program! I interview Dick, a resident of a Mitchell-Lama limited equity housing cooperative. None of my friends know what “limited equity” or “housing cooperative” mean. But don’t let vocab words scare you off! In all of New York City, Mitchell-Lamas are the best places for ordinary people to live. New Yorkers describe getting into a Mitchell-Lama “hitting the jackpot.” This episode is quite a bit longer than we planned. First, as the very first episode, we spent some extra time introducing the entire show. I also had the fortune of interviewing someone who is not only a resident of Mitchell-Lama housing; he is an expert on it. In addition to all the great information, Dick asks us to consider questions that have no quick answer, like “should a home be an investment?” and “what do we owe the public if the public subsidizes our housing?” Thanks to Dick for inviting me into his home (before the pandemic) and sitting down for an interview. And thanks as well to Scott of Cream City Social for listening to the interview and tying it all together. Image: The “million dollar view” from Dick’s New York home, looking uptown. This one shot is a sliver of the panorama: Dick’s balcony also has a view of the East River. Music by Matt Krco.
10 minutes | Dec 17, 2020
New podcast: Housing for Us
Housing for Us is a show about affordable housing. Half of our episodes will be Fixer-Upper episodes. Not everyone realizes just how desperately our housing system is in need of reform. We talk to people who have been through the worst of our housing system. Our housing system isn’t a dream home; it’s a real fixer-upper. These episodes will explore the problems that need fixing. The other half will be Cribs episodes: our homage to MTV Cribs. But instead of hearing about the housing of the fabulously wealthy, we’ll be hearing about people who live in fabulous affordable housing programs around the world. Change can be scary, but you’ll be eager to reform our housing system when you hear from people who have benefited from these great programs! Not sure if you want to subscribe? This is a clip from the beginning of our first episode, where we explain the goals of the show.
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