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Escaping the Housing Trap with Charles Marohn

April 30 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Housing is an investment. Investment prices must go up. Housing is shelter. When the price of shelter goes up, people experience distress.

This is the housing trap. It’s time to escape. This presentation introduces a first-of-its-kind discussion of the tension between housing as a financial product and housing as shelter. These insights will help local communities fight back against the current affordability housing crisis, and opt out of the boom and bust cycles that have typified housing in postwar America. 

This presentation offers a serious, yet accessible, history of housing policy in the United States and explains how it led us to this point in time: where we face a market that is rigged against people who, only a few decades ago, could have been homeowners or stable, long-term renters. Only local change, on a neighborhood or city-wide scale, can begin to restore balance to the housing market.

After this one-hour presentation, you’ll walk away understanding:

  • How the tension between housing as an investment and housing as shelter impacts where and how we live.
  • How financial innovations in the Great Depression stabilized the housing market, and how those tools were repurposed after World War II to rapidly expand America’s cities. 
  • How a series of housing price bubbles and banking crises have financialized the housing market, transforming homeowners from the customer purchasing a home to the product supporting a mortgage.
  • How regulations designed to facilitate the rapid growth of cities end up stagnating neighborhoods and creating artificial housing shortages.
  • Why making it easier for more people to borrow more money is not a solution to housing affordability and, in fact, has only made housing less broadly attainable.
  • The huge difference between a goal of making affordable housing and a goal of making housing affordable.
  • Where cities can effectively intervene to make their housing market more locally responsive, broadly increasing affordability without participating in the boom and bust cycle of the broader housing market.


April 30
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Livable Harrisonburg
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Pale Fire Brewing Co.
217 S Liberty St #105
Harrisonburg, VA 22801 United States
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