Seattle Growth Podcast episode 4: Renting in Seattle

Professor Jeff Shulman

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In the fourth episode of the Seattle Growth Podcast, hosted by the UW Foster School’s Jeff Shulman, get an inside perspective on the effect of skyrocketing rents on the lives of some of Seattle’s workers.

  • Meet a chef named Carrie (3:30) who works two jobs to make ends meet, and Steve Smith (13:55) who builds for people in Seattle.
  • And hear an in-depth interview on the topic with Kshama Sawant (26:52), Seattle’s first socialist city council member in over a century.
  • Shulman also speaks to Jeff Managlin (0:00).

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The Seattle Growth Podcast is a 13-episode exploration of this booming city’s ongoing transformation. A new episode premieres each Tuesday. The first three in the series consider Seattle’s tech boom and the challenges of buying a home and homelessness. Upcoming episodes take on the topics of character and culture, density, emergency services, health care, public utilities, schools, transportation, city budget and visions for the future.

The series is hosted and produced by Shulman, an associate professor of marketing and the Marion B. Ingersoll Professor at the UW Foster School of Business.

  • Peter Lyons

    For the money we get to live through 9 months of dreary damp depressing weather every year, witness the masses poisoning themselves with marijuana, look at the graffiti, donate to the homeless at every off-ramp, and sit in gridlock while in the “express” lanes. Ah, Seattle.

  • Bev

    I listened to the entire podcast. As I come from a poor or lower-middle-class family, I remember having some of the frustrations expressed by the people being interviewed. But there was a difference, and I’ll explain it later in this comment.

    What I found most concerning were the comments by Kshama Sawant in 26:52 of time. It seems to me that she has no basic understanding of … anything and doesn’t remember what she says from one minute to the next.

    For example, she suggests that increased density is one solution for creating affordable housing. Then a few minutes later she explains how poor people should be able to use affordable/efficient mass-transit. Then she goes on to suggest that low-income people can’t afford a energy-efficient vehicle such as a Nissan Leaf. Does she understand that dense housing does not include parking? And that if a person can afford a relatively expensive car such as a Nissan Leaf, insurance, and parking, that the person doesn’t need assistance with rent?

    And there’s more. Kshama claims to know a lot about economics. Really? Does she understand that someone who invests in real-estate usually extracts a VERY small profit, if any, from their investment? Does she understand that when a dollar is extracted from the “wealthy investors”, the margin shrinks even more which forces the investor to raise rent to compensate for the lost dollar?

    I could go on and on but will stop with those points.

    Sadly there are many, many people in the PNW who also don’t understand these basic relationships.

    So getting back to the difference mentioned at the beginning of this comment, it’s simple. When I was poor I aspired to do better, to become middle-class, or maybe even financially upper-class. The difference is that I didn’t expect anyone to give things to me.

    Today people expect almost instant rewards without prolonged struggle.

    Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t work that way.

    I knew from a very young age that I would need to scratch and fight my way into the next tier of financial success. Having nice things and living in a nice home are not “rights”. They are earned. And while it would have been nice to have them given to me by someone such as a rich relative, I recognized it would never happen and I never expected something for nothing.