Saturday, December 22, 2018

Marinwood CSD approves Labor contract WITHOUT financial analysis



The Marinwood CSD rushed to approve this at the December 20, 2018 WITH NO DISCUSSION of the financial costs and long term financial affects to the district budget. It is yet another example of the feckless leadership on the Marinwood CSD board and the CSD Manager who lacks training in labor negotiation. Over 66% of all Marinwood FD emergency response is in the City of San Rafael. Marinwood taxpayers subsidize this because of the inept ability of Marinwood CSD to negotiate a fair agreement. This is why we need to consider alternatives to the current "shared services" agreement such as alignment with another agency or hiring fire services privately.

Marinwood CSD is certain to go bankrupt unless it adopts a responsible fiscal management plan. Simply doing "business as usual" will drive us irreversibly into bankruptcy without the ability to meet pension obligations.

Marinwood firefighters get 3-year contract after period of tension

Marinwood firefighters get 3-year contract after period of tension


Firefighters extinguish a vegetation fire last year near Johnstone Drive in Marinwood. The neighborhood has its own firefighters, but the top administrators are from the San Rafael Fire Department. (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

By GARY KLIEN | gklien@marinij.com | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: December 22, 2018 at 5:15 pm | UPDATED: December 22, 2018 at 5:18 pm


After several years without a contract, Marinwood’s firefighters have secured a three-year package of pay hikes.

The contract, approved Thursday night by the Marinwood Community Services District board, also includes a $2,000 one-time payment and other incentives. The vote was 4-0, with Jeff Naylor absent.

The increases range from 5.5 percent to 8.5 percent over the three years, depending on rank. By the end of the contract, the maximum pay scale will range from $6,913 a month for veteran firefighters to $8,121 for captains.

Union negotiator John Bagala, a former Marinwood fire captain, said the contract still leaves Marinwood’s pay as the lowest in the county, but the multiyear deal gives the firefighters and the district a respite from being at “loggerheads.”

“Much more needs to be done, but this contract is a good first step,” said Bagala, vice president of Marin Professional Firefighters, Local 1775 of the International Association of Firefighters. “The reason we strive for parity is in order to attract the most qualified people so we can provide the highest quality service to the public.”

The district also agreed to start an “advanced life support” program for its medics, bringing them up to the care level provided by other local departments. Bagala said the majority of the department’s 1,400 to 1,500 annual calls are medical.

The contract caps a prolonged period of tension over not just wages but also basic working conditions. The firehouse kitchen, largely demolished nearly two years ago during a mold abatement project, was only recently refurbished after repeated snags over funding and contractors.

“The district is grateful to have completed this process and looks forward to focusing on the future, while enhancing the high level of service our community has come to expect,” Leah Green, president of the district board, said of the contract resolution.

In this fiscal year, the contract calls for a 1.5 percent raise for firefighters and firefighter-paramedics; 2 percent for engineers; and 2.5 percent for captains. In the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years, those numbers rise to 2 percent, 2.5 percent and 3 percent.

Under the agreement, the department will have nine budgeted positions instead of 10. The nine positions cover three shifts that include a captain, an engineer and firefighter. Overtime shifts fill in the gaps. See the full story  HERE

Editor's Note:  The Marinwood CSD rushed to approve this at the December 20, 2018 WITH NO DISCUSSION of the financial costs and long term financial affects to the district budget.   It is yet another example of the feckless leadership on the Marinwood CSD board and the CSD Manager who lacks training in labor negotiation.  Over 66% of all Marinwood FD emergency response is in the City of San Rafael.   Marinwood taxpayers subsidize this because of the inept ability of Marinwood CSD to negotiate a fair agreement.  This is why we need to consider alternatives to the current "shared services" agreement such as alignment with another agency or hiring fire services privately.

Marinwood CSD is certain to go bankrupt unless it adopts a responsible fiscal management plan. Simply doing "business as usual" will drive us irreversibly into bankruptcy without the ability to meet pension obligations. 

Marinwood CSD Turnaround Lies

Friday, December 21, 2018

"We are not throwing (Jeff Naylor) under the bus"



Jeff Naylor CSD Board member is passed over for consideration as Marinwood CSD board president.  Leah Green - “We are not throwing him under the bus.”  Naylor has served on the Marinwood Fire Commission for many years. In his new role on the Marinwood CSD, he has missed at least five meetings in 2018 yet still found time to meet privately with CSD Manager, Eric Dreikosen to discuss the Marinwood Maintenance Facility.  His regular violations of the Brown Act and lack of  transparency of Marinwood business practices is subject of citizen complaints and is under review.  Naylor famously dismissed 200 residents who called for a public meeting to discuss the Maintenance Facility as ignorant. 

This was not one of Jeff Naylor's finer moments in 2018

The Tragedy of Urban Renewal

Urban Renewal...Means Negro Removal. ~ James Baldwin (1963)



Urban development ("improving the neighborhood) most often means moving out existing residents in favor of new, wealthier ones.  Plan Bay Area has displaced tens of thousands of African Americans from around the Bay Area in the name of "environmentalism and social equity".  We think people should come first.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

What a Wonderful World-Louis Armstrong

Smart Growth: Why It's Not Working in the Bay Area

Remember when free expression and "back to the land" were a popular movement?

New: Smart Growth: Why It's Not Working in the Bay Area (Public Comment)

James Shinn
Tuesday August 11, 2015 - 10:23:00 PM
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Smart growth is simply not working in highly attractive urban settings such as San Francisco. The reason is that smart growth in these areas has a paradoxical effect. The reasons are as follows:

From a climatological and topographical standpoint, San Francisco has always been a desirable place to live. There has never been a time when people didn’t want to live there. On the other hand, something very strange has happened in the last 10-15 years. The city has vaulted dramatically to the top in our country to become the most expensive major urban city in the USA for rentals, and the second most gridlocked city in the nation. Why has this happened at the same time that smart growth policies became fully imbedded in local urban planning decisions!? We are getting the exact opposite of what smart growth policy promises should happen! High rise residential structures have exploded all over San Francisco, but the gridlock and prices just seem to be getting worse and worse.  
The reason is two-fold. The Bay Area happens to be the cradle for one of the greatest economic revolutions in human history—the high-tech revolution. But this revolution was born in the Santa Clara valley, which does not have the topographical and climatological assets that are characteristic of the North Bay. For a considerable period of time, this did not make much difference in habitation patterns. The techies involved in the industry remained in the valley close to their companies. Being well-paid, they bid up residential prices in the area to quite high levels. Then came the smart phone app application revolution, combined with the move of financial firms to San Francisco, and the concomitant decisions by city planners to start driving the city skyward. San Francisco suddenly became THE place to live if you wanted to show you had “made it”, and all these techies decided they wanted to live in this new “Manhattan”. High rise buildings are part of this “vibe”. As one Bay Area city planner told me when I objected to skyscrapers for Berkeley, “Americans love skyscrapers!”. For awhile, techies started moving to San Francisco and taking corporate buses back to the Valley for their jobs each day. This still goes on. But, increasingly, they now have such high salaries that they can actually buy a condo in the city—and that is the key variable driving the current price explosion.  
The other key variable is the fact that, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, about 20% of SF residential purchases are by foreign buyers, primarily from China, as investment vehicles for getting assets offshore. And, frequently, these foreign purchases are empty most of the year. Everybody wants to be part of the new “Gotham by the Bay”. This is why, the more you build, the more they will keep coming—with the disastrous environmental effects of gridlock that we are now seeing. The smart growth theory is that this high-rise density actually can be used to force people out of their cars. Some of the more cynical smart growth advocates actually say that, eventually, the gridlock will get so destructive that people will have no other choice but to virtually abandon the automobile. This mantra is particularly prevalent among young techies. But, sadly, this is the fallacy of hope over experience. It simply is not happening in any urban area that has very limited land availability(SF), high topological/climatological desirability(SF), and high disposable income among the professional class(once again, SF).  
To date, Berkeley has not yet become totally infected with this virus—but we are on the cusp. This drive by techies, and out of country buyers, to live in SF at all costs can not be realized by all. Some just don’t have quite enough money to realize the dream. What to do? Move across the bay to the next best alternative—Oakland and Berkeley, commute to our jobs in SF and hope that the “Manhattanization” of Berkeley(for example) moves ahead fast enough so that it can be seen as an “acceptable life-style” type of place to live. The sad fact is that, then,what has happened to SF is going to happen to Berkeley—and fast! We are already starting to see the first wave of this impact. Gridlock is growing, prices are going up steadily, lower income residents are being pushed out. And we are rapidly losing the particular aesthetic, architectural, and livable character of this low-rise city. And the city planners plan for even more of this by urging the construction of high rises because this, allegedly, will provide more housing, at more affordable rates, for all. Unfortunately, this won’t happen.  
What we will get instead is "Manhattan by the East Bay”, ever more unaffordable as it becomes a perhaps equally “acceptable" place to live as SF. The bottom line is that, for high desirability, land deficit, urban areas, the high rise codicil to smart growth philosophy simply doesn’t work. The problem is that urban planners simply are refusing to believe that “the emperor has no clothes”. In the face of reality staring them in the face they simply can’t admit what is happening before their very eyes—and ears and noses! When the Downtown Plan was passed several years ago, the people of Berkeley had not come to realize this either. But in the meantime, this revolution in urban development has exploded with exponential force. More and more of the public is beginning to come to terms with what urban planning, by “the best and the brightest” hath wrought—and they don’t like it. This is why Harold Way must be stopped at all costs, Once the people of Berkeley allow city development to cross this high-rise Rubicon, and set a true high-rise precedent in our fair city, there is no turning back. The die will have been cast. 
And finally, what happens if this current tech bubble bursts—as it has before—and many are predicting that it will soon—and real estate prices begin to tumble rapidly—as they did so recently. Then we will have a downtown stuck with high-rise structures that don’t appear to be such good investments, and tax reservoirs, after all. In fact, they will be white elephants. This is why true, “smart growth” for Berkeley is to proceed with mid-rise, 4-6 story infill development along the lines of what is presently going on. After all, this has been good enough for Paris, why should it not be good enough for us! There is plenty of opportunity for this to be done—despite what some city planners say. One can argue about the aesthetics and neighborhood impact of these structures, and this is the proper purview of the Design Review Committee, but this more cautious approach to downtown development provides far more protection against the inevitable real estate bust that is coming. 

A very Libertarian Christmas

How to Connect Ideas with People

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

REMY: Its beginning to look alot like Christmas

U.S. Cost of Living and Wage Stagnation, 1979-2015

U.S. Cost of Living and Wage Stagnation, 1979-2015

By Marian L. Tupy
|
@HumanProgress





The question of the cost of living in the United States is intimately connected to the issue of the so-called “wage stagnation,” which is typically blamed on economic liberalizationthat started under President Carter, gathered steam under President Reagan, and peaked under President Clinton.

According to a 2015 report issued by the Economic Policy Institute, a pro-labor think tank based in Washington, D.C., “ever since 1979, the vast majority of American workers have seen their hourly wages stagnate or decline. This is despite real GDP growth of 149 percent and net productivity growth of 64 percent over this period. In short, the potential has existed for ample, broad-based wage growth over the last three-and-a-half decades, but these economic gains have largely bypassed the vast majority.”

True, adjusted for inflation, average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees in the private sector (closest approximation for the quintessential blue-collar worker that I could find) have barely changed between 1979 and 2015. In October 1979, average hourly earnings stood at $6.51 or $21.20 in 2015 dollars. In October 2015, average hourly earnings stood at $21.18 – slightly below the inflation adjusted 1979 level.

Looking at the average hourly earnings, however, ignores at least three very important factors: expansion of non-wage benefits, fall in the price of consumer goods and rise in price of services, such as education and healthcare.



First, in recent decades, non-wage benefits expanded. Today they include relocation assistance, medical and prescription coverage, vision and dental coverage, health and dependent care flexible spending accounts, retirement benefit plans, group-term life and long term care insurance plans, legal and adoption assistance plans, child care and transportation benefits, vacation and sick paid time-off, and employee discount programs from a variety of vendors, etc.

It is not easy to put an exact figure on the value of those non-wage benefits, but they could amount to as much as 30 or even 40 percent of the workers’ earnings. The lion’s share of the non-wage benefits, as my Cato colleague Peter Van Doren wrote in 2011, is consumed by “the dramatic increase in health insurance costs.” “The fixed costs of health insurance,” Van Doren shows, “are a much larger percentage of the total compensation of lower-earnings workers.”

Second, many, perhaps most, big-ticket items used by a typical American family on a daily basis have decreased in price. Over at Human Progress, we have been comparing the prices of common household items as advertised in the 1979 Sears catalog and prices of common household items as sold by Walmart in 2015.

We have divided the 1979 nominal prices by 1979 average nominal hourly wages and 2015 nominal prices by 2015 average nominal hourly wages, to calculate the “time cost” of common household items in each year (i.e., the number of hours the average American would have to work to earn enough money to purchase various household items at the nominal prices). Thus, the “time cost” of a 13 Cu. Ft. refrigerator fell by 52 percent in terms of the hours of work required at the average hourly nominal wage, etc.

Needless to say, the above price reductions greatly underestimate the totality of welfare gains by an average American, by ignoring qualitative, aesthetic and environmental improvements on commonly used items. (To give just one example, a refrigerator today uses one-third of the electricity used by a refrigerator in the 1970s.)

From the above discussion it might be reasonable to conclude that Americans are much better off today than they were in the late 1970s, but that would be too simplistic. The cost of education, healthcare and housing has risen at a faster pace than total compensation. It is true that today’s houses are larger, healthcare better, and education more high-tech than in the past, but quality improvements do not seem to account for the entirety of price increases. For example, there appears to be a high degree of academic consensus that housing price inflation is driven, primarily, by zoning laws. (No such consensus, alas, exists for the rise in education and healthcare costs.)

The question of standard of living is a complex one. The accompanying infographic refers to merely one part of the debate, i.e., affordability of commonly used items. While we believe that the infographic tells an important story, it should be considered within a broader context, including non-wage compensation and offsetting increases in the cost of housing, education, and healthcare.

This first appeared in Reason

The accompanying infographic features 16 different household items have fallen by between 52 percent and 96 percent in terms of “time cost” since 1979.


Marian L. Tupy is a senior policy analyst at the Cato Institute and editor of HumanProgress.org.

Mid Century Home Life in the 1950s

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Santa Rosa Mayor. "No funding, No Outreach" with the CASA compact


Huffman: Dixie must take ‘long, overdue step’ to change name

Huffman: Dixie must take ‘long, overdue step’ to change name

Huffman, 4 other leaders send letters to school board asking for new name


By KERI BRENNER | kbrenner@marinij.com | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: December 17, 2018 at 4:13 pm | UPDATED: December 18, 2018 at 7:21 am

View this document on Scribd

With a nod to the national “ugly resurgence of neo-Confederates and white nationalists,” U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman has sent a strong and urgent letter to members of the Dixie School District board of trustees suggesting they change the district’s name to something that does not connote “a dark and hateful part of our nation’s history.”
Congressman Jared Huffman (Frankie Frost/Marin Independent Journal)

“We cannot separate this issue from the broader context of our country’s struggles with racism,” Huffman, D-San Rafael, said in the letter, sent last week to board president Brad Honsberger and copied to the four other board members. “Our nation’s dark history and current struggles with racism compels us to be honest about the hateful origins of these symbols, and to acknowledge that whatever revisionist nostalgia some may attach to them, they are rooted in racism and deeply offensive to some people.”

Opponents of the name change, however, said the issue should be decided locally.

“As we’ve always stated from the beginning, this issue was manufactured by aspiring politicians and outside special interest activists,” reads a statement emailed Monday from “We Are Dixie,” a group that wants to keep the Dixie name.

“The school board and district should not be threatened with the fear of a ‘dark cloud’ hanging over us if we vote to keep the name,” the statement says. “The community should be heard and not be told how to feel by outside special interest groups and politicians.”

Those in favor of changing the name, who gathered Saturday to brainstorm new name ideas and collect petition signatures at a party in San Rafael, applauded the letter. At the party, at least 30 names were suggested, of which about eight received the minimum 15 signatures to present to the school board on Jan. 15. Additional suggestions may be added at ChangetheName.net.

“Support for the name change has reached historic levels,” said proponent Alex Stadtner. “I’m proud that in the 21st century, our community is finally ready to shed this divisive, Civil-War-era name that harms some members and tarnishes our image.”

Huffman, a former civil rights attorney, was joined in the letter-writing effort by state Sen. Mike McGuire, San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips, Marin Community Foundation CEO Thomas Peters and Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke. They each sent their own letters — in their own words but with the same sentiments — to the board.

“The name Dixie can’t stand in modern America,” said McGuire, D-Healdsburg, SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Monday, December 17, 2018

CSD Meeting is rescheduled for this Thursday, December 20, 2018

Angry Citizens object to the CASA Compact


Bruce Anderson and Dave Curtis ask Dixie to “Change the Name”.


Bruce Anderson, Marinwood Nextdoor Moderator
Asks Dixie School District to Change the Name.


Dave Curtis asks to Change the Name and explains his social media strategy
The above speeches were given during public time at the Dixies School Board meeting on December 12, 2018. The school board meets on the second Tuesday at the Dixie District office.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Fable: THE SHEEP AND THE PIG

ONE day a shepherd discovered a fat Pig in the meadow where his Sheep were pastured. He very quickly captured the porker, which squealed at the top of its voice the moment the Shepherd laid his hands on it. You would have thought, to hear the loud squealing, that the Pig was being cruelly hurt. But in spite of its squeals and struggles to escape, the Shepherd tucked his prize under his arm and started off to the butcher's in the market place.

The Sheep in the pasture were much astonished and amused at the Pig's behavior, and followed the Shepherd and his charge to the pasture gate.

"What makes you squeal like that?" asked one of the Sheep. "The Shepherd often catches and carries off one of us. But we should feel very much ashamed to make such a terrible fuss about it like you do."

THE SHEEP AND THE PIG

"That is all very well," replied the Pig, with a squeal and a frantic kick. "When he catches you he is only after your wool. But he wants my bacon! gree-ee-ee !"
It is easy to be brave when there is no danger.

Scott Wiener, Pied Piper for the New Urban Renewal


Scott Wiener, Pied Piper for the New Urban Renewal

DICK PLATKIN 13 DECEMBER 2018




PLATKIN ON PLANNING-The old Urban Renewal. Urban renewal was the grand strategy of the Federal Government in the post-WWII war era to reconstruct large sections of American cities through local agencies, such as California’s Community Redevelopment Agencies.

The critical laws adopted by Congress were the Housing Acts of 1949 and 1954, the Highway Act of 1956, and the New Communities Act of 1968. Through Federal subsidies, entire neighborhoods were acquired through each city’s power of eminent domain. Then came the evictions of local residents, followed by the bulldozers and wrecking balls.

After the local agencies assembled many small parcels into larger ones, large real estate investors were invited in, again with government subsidies, to rebuild these older neighborhoods for upscale commercial tenants and occasional high-rise apartments with subsidized rents that are now expiring.

In Los Angeles, a famous historic area, Bunker Hill, totally disappeared. Your only recourse to see what once thrived there are film noir movies, such as Cross Cross (1949). The City replaced this neighborhood with the Harbor Freeway and the new financial district, office and bank buildings, and high-end hotels on Figueroa and Flower Street.

Urban renewal’s primary rationale was the elimination of “blighted” neighborhoods, and these programs were successful in leveling these older, poorer neighborhoods, at least in locations where investors could take advantage of their ideal location, such as Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles.

But urban renewal had two critical blind spots. First, by removing the residents from these neighborhoods, it simply pushed low-income people out to other neighborhoods. This is why, especially in cities like New York, writer James Baldwin called urban renewal Negro Removal. By shoving the poor to other neighborhoods, urban renewal did not address the root causes of blight, which was racism and economic inequality. In fact, it led to massive displacement and impoverishment, one of the factors responsible for the frequent ghetto rebellions in the United States between 1964-1969, including Los Angeles in 1965.



The other blind spot was taxation. The redevelopment agencies gobbled up an increasing share of local tax revenues through tax increment financing. The increased value and tax payments for redeveloped neighborhoods went into the coffers of redevelopment agencies, not cities.

For these and other reasons urban renewal was gradually phased out. In California its end finally came in 2011-2012 through the actions of the California State Legislature and Supreme Court.

The new Urban Renewal is targeted upzoning: The official end of urban renewal in California did not, however, end informal and formal support by state and local government aid to investors interested in easy access to desirable locations in older neighborhoods for their grandiose projects. This is where Scott Wiener and his champions, such as YIMBY California, which authored his previous proposal, SB 827, and played a major role in SB 827 2.0, the recently released SB 50.

There are, however, major differences between the old urban renewal and its reincarnation through schemes to up-zone many urban neighborhoods, without any parallel upgrades of supportive municipal services and infrastructure.

The old version depended on legislation from the Federal Government, combined with the power of local government to acquire large blocks of real estate through eminent domain.

The new version also works through government, but only at the state and local level. Instead of creating new agencies employing many architects, designers, civil engineers, and city planners, the new version largely relies on market forces, abetted by the deregulation of zoning and environmental review. It guiding theory is a pipe dream that unregulated market forces can be harnessed to build affordable housing, increase transit ridership, and reduce Green House Gases. If we just let investors maximize their profits through speculation in urban real estate, this rising tide will lift all boats.

While the previous version was based on a grand vision of rebuilding entire neighborhoods, the new version has settled for a chaotic parcel-by-parcel approach.

While the old version also used highways and affordable housing as its pretext for acquiring older parcels and evicting residents, the new version has shifted its rational from highways to mass transit. And, instead of building government operated affordable housing, the new version calls for a small percentage of either mandatory or voluntary affordable housing in expensive market projects -- without any on-site inspections.

The new version also has two other justifications that the older version did not invoke: increasing transit ridership and, therefore, reducing the generation of the Green House Gases responsible for climate change. But, just as the older version used the elimination of blight as a pretext, as it shunted the poor to other neighborhoods, the new version targets neighborhoods that its alleges are not suitable for transit ridership, displacing local residents through evictions instead of eminent domain.

But, like the urban renewal, this is only a cover story for government intervention to speed up the gentrification process. It allows real estate investors to get access to prime locations now occupied by low-income residents. Furthermore, the current rationale is so preposterous that it could never withstand any type of independent assessment to verify its rationales or that it achieves its stated goals.

Whether the new urban renewal proceeds at the local level through real estate scams the like the Purple Line Extension “transit neighborhood plan” or at the state level through Scott Wiener’s SB 827 and his SB 50, there is no evidence that these programs create more than a sliver of short-term affordable housing, or that they reduce the generation of Green House Gases. Any monitoring program would quickly reveal that these are totally bogus claims, which is why the new urban renewal never monitors itself. Once it achieves its real goal, upzoning, the process ends, and these generous gifts to developers are locked into place.

Other deceptions supporting the new urban renewal would also dissolve under scrutiny. It advocates, like its lead torchbearer, Scott Wiener, repeatedly claim that their upzoning schemes will create affordable housing by “supply-and-demand,” conveniently forgetting that this “economic law” only works when investors make high profits. It never works if investors lose their shirts to build and/or rent affordable apartments.

The other unsupported claim by Wiener and his followers is that the expensive housing they lobby hard for will become affordable 25 years from now through filtering. When pressed for examples where this has happened, they can never pin point any locations. For example, they are unable to identify any previously expensive housing that is now affordable in Los Angeles because if does not exist.

As the politicians, the academics, and the media ballyhoo SB 50, each bubble will be easily pierced by a simple request, “Show us the evidence.”

This will lead to the demise of the new urban renewal, so it can join the old renewal on library shelves reserved for failed urban programs.

(Dick Platkin is former Los Angeles city planner, who reports on local planning controversies for CityWatchLA. Please send any comments or correction to rhplatkin@gmail.com.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

YIMBY "Victoria Fierce" demands affordable housing because Life is Hard



YIMBY activist "Victoria Fierce" demands affordable housing at the CASA Oversight  Committee hearing on December 12, 2018.  He cites having to pay $2100 a month to share an apartment and the $500 cost of a cellphone as the reason why.  Most people who migrate suffer some hardship, find cheaper rent and live in thrifty ways. Many sleep on friend's couches until they get established with a new job.  It seems that Ms Fierce is more prosperous than many people who have been here for four years.  Is this a "housing crisis"?