About Patrick Condon, James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments, University of British Columbia

Patrick Condon has 30+ years’ experience both as an academic and a practitioner. His work has always focused on highly practical solutions to complex “wicked” problems in urban development. His writings include scores of essays in popular media where he has had a marked influence on public policy. His academic conclusions are disseminated in two widely read books on urban design : Seven Rules for Sustainable Cities (2010), and Five Rules for Tomorrow’s Cities (2020).

The Pandemic, Inequality, Housing Affordability, and Urban Land

Since the Great Recession of 2008, the housing wealth gap has expanded to include not just Black and Brown Americans, but younger White Americans as well. Millennials and Generation Z Whites are now joining their Black and Brown peers in facing untenable housing precarity and blocked access to wealth. With wages stuck at 1980 levels and housing prices at least double (in inflation adjusted terms) what they were 40 years ago, many younger Americans, most with college degrees, are giving up on buying a home and even struggle to rent apartments suitable for raising a family.

What makes it hard for policy people and citizens to accept this truth is that we have not seen this problem in a very long time. Back in the 1920s of course, but not really since then. But this is actually an old problem that has come back to haunt us; a problem first articulated by Adam Smith in the 1700s.