PERSPECTIVE: Abundance and Scarcity – housing affordability in the CoVid era

The idea of abundance is one that has always resonated with me from the time my Nana taught me about the power of my mind, and being able to achieve that which I can conceive. Her wording was far simpler and every bit as empowering… “Everything in here (as she would point to her brain) can be out there.”

Abundance is the concept that even with finite resources, there is always room for anyone to create something of value for their community, and themselves

My favorite abundance story is the Cherry Pie story. If you counted up all the cherry trees in the world, and figured out exactly how many cherries existed in a year, how many cherry pies could be baked? The abundant answer? It depends on how many bakers you have. The pushback might be, crunch the numbers and figure it out, but that would assume that the same amount of cherries would go into each pie, and that all pies are the same size. It would also assume that all the cherry pies were pure cherry pies, when in fact some might be a mix of cherries and other fruit. It would also not take into account the number of cherries which are frozen each year, some by individuals, and others by large producers of cherries… lol! Fun stuff, right? The pushback I just described would be an example of the concept known as scarcity.

Scarcity is the concept that there is only so much of whatever to go around, so you better get yours when you can. Scarcity is self-serving and short term. Abundant thinking is innovative and looks at the long play, and how to authentically inspire others to be productive.

An excellent example of this is today’s housing and rental market in what has been, and continues to be a surreal Covid era. 

What changed in the housing market during the CoVid era?

Before I share my thoughts on that question, let me first share with you what my own Foundation did when Covid hit. We made an abundant choice. We chose to donate 16 self-care workshops and seminars across the country, obviously virtually. We didn’t ask for emails or phone numbers. 

We made the decision to give abundantly, and about a year later we were asked to partner with four new organizations, each sizable…. This is abundant thinking.

What about the housing market? Check this out:

  • The Pandemic Hit
  • People Moved
  • From urban and relatively wealthy areas
  • To more rural, suburbs and/or less affluent areas

The Result?

  • Rent DECREASED in high income areas
  • Rent INCREASED in low income areas

Why?

Because some people and organizations in housing think only of market demand. When they figure out that loyalty equals long lasting business…

...they will go from thinking of only market demand to things like how to hold on to market share for a longer period of time…

Why are they thinking like this?

Because they are acting out of fear, and/or greed…. Scarcity thinking at its finest or worst, depending on your perspective.

A great example of this in my hometown of Tucson, Arizona is zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/tucson-az One glaring example is in the low income area of Pueblo Gardens, with rent hitting $1,000+ where I spent half my childhood. 

A larger topic is that of inequality. There is nothing helpful when the housing industry takes advantage of a market demand in an area where children and families are already struggling. 

Rent and income were inversely related in 2020, but NOT in 2019. We’re relatively fortunate in Pima County, where the rent increase was 6.3% from 2019 - 2020. Compared to that, the home of Phoenix, AZ, Maricopa County, only saw a 4.4% increase. Compare that to Durham County, North Carolina, where I have worked with many of my colleagues in education. Durham saw a 29% increase… you read that correctly. 

Another challenge is competing interests for space without considering the long term impact on existing communities. I’m for expansion when it’s coupled with an appreciation for existing communities. One challenging example is highlighted here.

The key takeaway, is to be aware of what is happening and more importantly why it’s happening. You might ask, what can you do? There is actually a lot you can do from getting involved on local boards, to attending city council meetings, and supporting active local organizations like Local First Arizona. You can also support organizations which are educating the next generation in ways to help them think creatively and critically. My own non profit organization, the Global Learning Foundation is working closely with Pima Community College in such ways.

Think, Act…. use your voice

Cheers!

Enrique 

 

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