Dr. Natalie Brown, who studied English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, joins Brandt Malone to talk about her fascinating piece at By Common Consent looking at the current United States affordability crisis and the implications for members of the Church. All that plus more on the Report!
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Two of the best paragraphs in her article (IMHO) are below, which I believe summarize many salient points:
LDS families in the United States are not immune from the general economic conditions that have driven many Americans toward cities and raised housing and childcare prices to unsustainable levels in many parts of the country. In an examination of the Bay Area housing crisis, Conor Dougherty locates the problem in the creation of high-opportunity jobs in metro areas combined with policies that have resulted in too little housing to accommodate the influx of labor. While cities like San Francisco are notorious for their housing shortages, even less expensive job centers are seeing alarming trends. Deseret News, for example, recently reported on the housing crisis along the Wasatch Front. Childcare costs have also risen dramatically, with childcare now costing more than in-state college tuition in many states. While not all families have two parents in the workforce, these costs impact unpaid caregivers and paid workers alike as even part-time preschool can be prohibitively expensive.
LDS families are caught in a problem faced by all Americans, but it is also a problem with deep implications for a religion that has strongly encouraged women to stay home and men to provide. For several decades, a great deal of the financial support and labor needed to run the Church has implicitly relied on this family structure. This model was never available to everyone, but what feels new is that it is also increasingly unavailable to the privileged, white, heteronormative Americans who’ve formed much of the Church’s American base. While the most wrenching consequences of the affordability crisis usually fall on individuals and disrupted local communities, I want to suggest that this crisis (and the associated changes to family life that it is causing) is one of the most pressing long-term challenges to the future of the LDS Church and its growth. It’s time now to adjust to a reality in which members are living and working differently than they did when many of the Church’s core programs were formed.