Housing Affordability Crisis Spreading to More Cities

Cities like Spokane, Washington courted new residents and businesses during the pandemic. Now, they're starting to wonder if it was worth it.

2 minute read

February 24, 2022, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Nagel Photography / Shutterstock

As housing prices continue to soar across the country and remote workers seek out new communities to buy homes and settle in, affordability is becoming an urgent issue in more and more small towns.

This is quickly becoming the case in Spokane, Washington, reports Conor Dougherty for The New York Times, where home prices rose by 60 percent in the last two years. A report commissioned by the Spokane Association of Realtors "warned of 'significant social implications' if the city doesn’t tackle housing. The issues included young families not being able to buy or taking on excessive debt, small businesses not being able to hire, difficulty keeping young college graduates in town."

 Being an 'it' place was something Spokane’s leaders had long hoped for. The city and its metropolitan region have spent decades trying to convince out-of-town professionals and businesses that it would be a great place to move. Now their wish has been granted, and the city is grappling with the consequences.

While many small towns purposely tried to attract new residents and businesses at the start of the pandemic, they have quickly realized that increased migration has created intense competition for housing stock and raised costs to the extent that local workers have a hard time finding affordable housing in their communities, with no solution in sight.

As Dougherty writes, "No matter how many times it happens, no matter how many cities and states try to blunt it with recommendations to build more housing and provide subsidies for those who can’t afford the new stuff, no matter how many zoning battles are fought or homeless camps lamented, no next city, as of yet, seems better prepared than the last one was."

Sunday, February 20, 2022 in The New York Times

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