March 31, 2016; The Guardian

The Guardian’s article “Think outside the box: San Francisco’s horrible, no good, very bad housing” is actually a follow-up to the Guardian’s earlier story about a man living in a box in his friend’s living room. In “Think outside the box,” Julia Carrie Wong documents a series of innovative ways that young people have challenged the extreme housing affordability crisis in San Francisco. Her examples include:

  • A tent in the back yard
  • A refurbished FedEx truck
  • A cupboard under the stairs
  • A basement crawl space
  • A truck in the parking lot at work
  • An uninhabitable house

But this lifestyle column is pointing to a systemic issue that is not at all funny if you are homeless and your shed on wheels has been towed away by the cops. Or you are facing displacement from the home you have lived in for 50 years. Or you live with your family in surroundings that could doom your children’s futures for the sake of a roof today.

Articles like “Think outside the box” seem to be framing today’s Millennials as stereotypical hippies from the Summer of Love. What’s wrong with this meme is that there is a problem when even the most hardworking millennials end up struggling with debt and wage stagnation just like many of their fellow citizens of all age brackets. News stories that at least reference the many more disastrous results of an increasingly exclusive housing market might be more edifying.—Spencer Wells