This is an exercise I like to think of as “womanthink,” even though I know there are men who do it very well, and lots of women who don’t do it at all. It asks three questions: What do we have lots of? What do we need more of? How do we turn what we have into what we need?
For instance, the foreclosure crisis. What it actually means is that we now have lots of unoccupied houses. At the same time, there is a shortage of rental housing, especially affordable rental housing. How do we turn unoccupied houses into affordable rental housing?
In fact, this one is easy compared to, say, spinning flax into gold, or turning dog manure into transportation fuel. Why don’t the banks, who own these unoccupied houses, get together with realtors, who at the moment have almost nothing to do with their time and no way to make a living, and have them rent out the houses, preferably on one- or two-year leases, so the tenants would stick around a while and take care of the property?
Yes, of course, most of those houses will have to be rehabbed before they are rentable. Unless, of course, you want to take the thought experiment a bit further and rent them to people who are willing to invest some sweat equity into making them livable in order to live in them. Say, in exchange for a waiver of the first month’s rent.
Which brings us to the next question: why isn’t it already happening? Mr. Wired thinks it is because the banks, having been conglomerated to within an inch of their lives (and sometimes beyond) have absolutely no sense of local demand, because they no longer have any location. So they simply don’t see any relationship between their “toxic assets” and real houses in which real people could be living and paying rent, if only somebody had the wit to see it.
You heard it here first.