Adam Ruins Housing

Oct 02 2016

In this episode, Adam evicts our misconceptions by revealing how homes are terrible investments, why housing share programs hurt city dwellers and how trying help the homeless can make the problem worse. Here are his sources, rent-free.


"It's even been shown that higher rates of homeownership lead to higher unemployment rates for exactly this reason."

Oswald, Andrew J. "A Conjecture on the Explanation for High Unemployment in the Industrialized Nations: Part I." Coventry: University of Warwick, 1996. Web.

"An economist regarded as the world's foremost housing expert found that when you adjust for inflation, the housing market hasn't risen at all in the last century."

Housel, Morgan. "Why your home is not a good investment." USA Today. Gannett Company, 10 May 2014. Web.

"In the first two years, the average homeowners spends more than 14 grand on improvements. And that can more than wipe out whatever little profit you make."

Sichelman, Lew. "The hidden costs of homeownership." Los Angeles Times. Tronc, Inc., 2 May 2010. Web.

"Now, it's true that some people should buy. But only if your income, the housing market and the home itself are perfect. So before you rush to buy, run ALL the numbers. Use an online rent/buy calculator and get financial advice from an expert, not a real estate agent."

Bostock, Mike, Carter, Shan and Tse, Archie. "Is It Better to Rent or Buy?" New York Times. The New York Times Company, 1 Apr. 2016. Web.

"Before toilet paper, some Americans would use corncobs!" 

Dugan, Bryan. "What Did People Use Before Toilet Paper?" Mental Floss. Dennis Publishing, 21 Feb. 2013. Web.  

"But Airbnb only offered to pay 78 bucks." 

Bort, Julie. "Airbnb Banned From Condo Complex After Guest Caused $10,000 Of Damage." Business Insider. Axel Springer SE, 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 

"After Airbnb refused to help, the host was forced to hire an expensive lawyer to evict them." 

Said, Carolyn. Squatters don't sit well with Airbnb hosts. San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Corporation, 25 Jul. 2014. Web. 

"In 2013, at least 6 Airbnb guests suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and one of them died. We don't even know how many have been hurt, because Airbnb refuses to disclose the numbers." 

Stone, Zak. "Living and Dying on Airbnb." Matter. Medium, 8 Nov. 2015. Web. 

"Sears does wonderful work. The problem is that this enables discrimination. One study found that guests with black-sounding names were 16% less likely to be accepted as guests."

Greenfield, Rebecca. "Study Finds Racial Discrimination by Airbnb Hosts." Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg L.P., 10 Dec. 2015. Web.

*Since this episode was filmed, Airbnb has changed their policies to address this issue. 

"The problem is, Airbnb doesn't respect those laws. A 2014 report found nearly 3 out of 4 Airbnb rentals in New York City were illegal." 

Streitfeld, David. "Airbnb Listings Mostly Illegal, New York State Contends." New York Times. The New York Times Company, 15 Oct. 2014. Web.

"These jerks take critical residential housing out of the market and drive up rents for all of us. And Airbnb does nothing to stop them."

 Monroe, Rachel. "More Guests, Empty Houses." Slate. Graham Holdings Company, 13 Feb. 2014. Web.

"And while this obviously isn't murder, it's still illegal. And not only does Airbnb profit off it, they've even secretly purged the records of illegal listings from the data they released to make it look like it's not happening." 

Bromwich, Jonah. "Airbnb Purged New York Listings to Create a Rosier Portrait, Report Says." New York Times. The New York Times Company, 11 Feb. 2016. Web.

"Programs like yours that require abstinence place such a burden on the homeless that many drop out and return to living on the streets." 

Melbin, Anna. "Services Optional: Using a Voluntary Services Approach." National Alliance to End Homelessness. 8 Feb. 2012. Web.

"Not to mention, once they're have a home, they're no longer homeless." 

Santich, Kate. "Cost of homelessness in Central Florida? $31K per person." Orlando Sentinel. Tronc, Inc., 21 May 2014. Web.

"That means Utah saved over $10,000 for every homeless person they housed."

Rascon, Jacob. "Utah's Strategy for the Homeless: Give Them Homes." NBC News. NBCUniversal, 3 May 2015. Web.

"Our country is in the middle of a housing crisis. Over half a million people are homeless in the U.S., homeowners are still struggling to pay mortgages, and nearly half of renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing." 

"Housing Challenges." The State of the Nation's Housing 2015. Cambridge: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 2015. 30-35. Web.


For More on this Topic

MacArthur Foundation fellow Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is a stunning ethnography chronicling the lack of affordable housing in Milwaukee. 

Journalist Zac Stone’s piece for Matter, on his dad’s death in an Airbnb and how the company handles liability.

Matt Yglesias’ book The Rent is Too Damn High: What to Do About It, and Why It Matters More than You Think provides an accessible discussion of rental housing and policy. 

Andrea Elliott’s masterfully reported New York Times profile “Invisible Child” follows the life of Dasani, a homeless child in New York City.