Note: This story is part of Squeezed Out, a series from Lee Enterprises that focuses on the escalating housing crisis in the West. Across the region, costs associated with renting or buying property have skyrocketed, forcing many individuals and families to redefine the meaning of home. More than one dozen reporters, photographers and editors across the West contributed to this project.
Solving the housing affordability crisis demands that communities make a choice: grow wider, grow taller or stop growing.
Home prices have soared in recent months as the demand for homes far outpaces supply. Currently, the U.S. is in need of between 3.8 million and 5.5 million housing units to meet existing demand, the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute says.
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The reasons — and potential solutions — depend on whose opinion you seek.
“People talk about vacation rentals, people talk about greedy builders, absentee landlords and all kinds of other things,” Patrick Barkey, an economist and the director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana says. “There’s a million different stories out there.
“Everyone’s asking, ‘What did we do? Manufacture a lot