Immigrants and Houses Bill
Also sponsored by Labyrinths at PeacefulJewelry
I was surprised to find the following in the New York Times this morning:
"Two senators, Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, have proposed a bill that would offer three-year visas to foreigners who spent at least $500,000 to buy homes in the United States. But the idea has many opponents who fear expanding the nation’s oversupply of workers (a worry not shared by a fair number of economists)."
That was in a longer article, Goodbye House, Hello Pot Plantation by Catherine Rampell. There are over 1.2 million for sale and empty houses in the U.S. today, including hundreds of thousands repossessed by banks but being held off the market. On the other hand moving the unemployment number back to 5% would soak up all of this housing (partly in the form of rentals) and create more than enough demand for another construction boom.
We are in a massive housing and economic Catch 22. We probably can't get to 5% unemployment unless there is strong new construction. Housing construction requires local labor (can't be done overseas) and the materials used themselves are heavy enough that shipping is a large cost component, so they tend to be regional as well. In addition banks are reluctant to loan to home buyers. That would change if housing prices firmed.
I proposed moving house-buying immigrants to the front of the line back in A Cheap, Quick Housing and Economy Fix [November 18, 2008]. A number of people thought it was a good idea, but getting traction in anything related to immigration is difficult.
If you want to look at the Lee-Schumer bill or track it through Congress, it is S. 1746: Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act. Here is the key text:
One of my complaints about the New York Times and other traditional web sources is that they hate it when a link takes you off their site, unless it is a paid ad. Not only do they not link to one of the bill tracking sites (there are several), they do not even give the official name of the bill, or its number. So getting more detail is unnecessarily difficult in this hyperlinked age. That is poor reporting, in my view. Probably not because of the reporters themselves, but because of "policy."
|III Blog list of articles|