Housing Gen Y: The Next Challenge for Cities

Excellent article posted on the Urban Land Institute Web-site, written by John K. McIlwain…

“Each generation has its unique attributes and faces its unique challenges. Generation Y, which consists of young people from their late teens to their early 30s, is no exception. But two facts in particular distinguish it from any previous U.S. generation: it is by most accounts the largest in U.S. history, consisting of some 80 million people or more, and it is by far the most economically challenged since the Great Depression.

Together, these two facts point to a tough challenge for this group—finding housing it can afford.

Today, an unprecedented number of gen-Yers are responding to this housing challenge by living with parents, with roommates, or in university dorms. Indeed, U.S. household formation has dropped to some 400,000 a year, a mere quarter of the pre-recession norm of 1.6 million. (The drop in immigration has caused some, but by no means all, of this remarkable shift.)

Why is gen-Y, now at the prime age for forming new households, staying at home, with roommates, or at school? For one, over 30 percent of this cohort, by some estimates, is unemployed. No job means no money for an apartment or home of one’s own. And while more members of this group have graduated from high school and college than those of previous generations, they are also carrying more school debt—an average of $23,000 per person. Nor is this group saving, but instead is carrying large credit-card debts.

Another bit of bad news comes from studies of past recessions, which show that it can take people coming of age during a recession ten years or more to recover financially. This recession, though declared officially over by economists, is going into its fourth year of high unemployment and low job creation, and wages are actually falling. This suggests that generation Y has a tough road ahead financially and may not get back on its feet until well after this decade is over.

When asked how they want to live, though, members of generation Y responds much as did previous generations. Many want to rent for a while, but a high percentage of gen-Yers want to own their own home eventually. These are the first-time homebuyers needed to restore the housing markets to stability, clean up the overhang of vacant and foreclosed homes, and stimulate new housing production, now stalled at 600,000 a year—one third of pre-recession levels. Financially, however, most of generation Y is in no position to buy a home now nor will be for years to come.

Keep in mind that this is also the next generation of the workforce. Gen-Yers are the entry-level employees needed to keep businesses growing, innovating, and producing. Will they be able to afford to live near jobs now or in the future? Without savings for a downpayment and with parents needing to rebuild retirement accounts, when will they be able to afford to buy a home? With wages falling, will they be able to afford market rents?

This is an issue facing every community that wants its economy to grow in the years ahead. Generation Y is the most mobile generation ever; its members can look for jobs anywhere in the country and the world by simply clicking on the internet. While the jobs come first, this generation is also looking for a good quality of life, which means to them, among other things, housing that is affordable, attractive, and located in walkable neighborhoods near jobs, services, and amenities. Gen-Yers are not looking to move to the now-cheap housing in the foreclosure-devastated exurban culs-de-sac even though that is where housing is most affordable now.

Any city or metropolitan region that cannot provide affordable, walkable, and attractive neighborhoods in which gen-Yers can afford to live will simply lose the best of them to those regions that have such neighborhoods. If they have to “drive ’til they qualify,” as the workforce before them has had to do, gen-Yers are more likely to simply fly off to another city or region.

Simply put, generation Y represents the future of every region’s economy. Attracting and keeping this group requires careful planning and a commitment to develop new mixed-income housing in mixed-use neighborhoods close to the central city and to the surrounding suburban town centers. The time to do this is now, while gen-Yers are still living at home, because when jobs for them do come back, the pent-up demand they represent will move quickly to those regions that are ready for them.”

Source Article Here:  http://urbanland.uli.org/Articles/2010/Nov/McIlwainGenY

Triple Bottom Line & The Patagonia

We continue to diligently work towards building upon our triple-bottom line culture and company.  This sustainable business model consists of three main components:

  1. Profit
  2. People
  3. Planet

While achieving any real Profits has been difficult for all of us over the last 3-5 years, Windsor Mill has certainly continued its commitment to People and Planet.  Two recent examples:

  • People: after the Chile quake, we invested significantly in helping to rebuild damaged and destroyed homes in local communities;
  • Planet: all WindsorONE fiber is either FSC-certified (over 70%), or from an FSC-controlled source.

We are clearly committed to environmentally sound supply-sourcing and manufacturing techniques. 

For some time now we have been aware of an international controversy regarding plans to dam rare river ecosystems in the Chilean Patagonia.  We are concerned that the Patagonia dam controversy would conflict with our environmental commitment and somehow be linked to our brand and products.

Therefore, as we buy raw material in Chile, we will endeavor to reduce material linked to the Patagonia dam controversy and to source more from MASISA, and other FSC-certified suppliers (& controlled sources).

For those interested in the sustainable Triple-Bottom-Line business model, this is a very simple image explaining the concept:

Arauco Sawmill Reopens

Take note of where the fiber will be going…

[article/pic taken from Lignum al Dia, a Chilean online publication]

“With the presence of Seremi Labour, local authorities and company executives, this morning was made the official reopening of the Sawmill Horcones Arauco II.

Through a tour of the facilities, it marked the official resumption of operations of the sawmill, located in the Forestry Industrial Complex Horcones, located in the town of Arauco.

The reactivation of the Arauco Mill Horcones II has meant hiring 165 workers. The resumption of operations of the industrial facility is a contribution to the creation of stable employment in an area particularly hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami on 27th February.

This production unit was closed since December last year, resulting from the crisis affecting the sector. When you restart operation, it hired 120 employees in the operation, mostly from the province of Arauco, Arauco communes and Curanilahue, and 45 persons from casino personnel, porters and guards.

The monthly production capacity Horcones II regime will be 14,500 m3 of green wood, and the main destinations of its output will be the domestic market, the Middle East, Asia and Central America.

Thus, of the 35 facilities Arauco who were detained since the earthquake, or in the case of Sawmill Horcones II from before, 34 and are operating normally.  It remains to Line 2 of the Pulp Mill Horcones, in which case it is not yet possible to specify the date on which restarted production.”

SOLID 4th of July Promo

We’re proud that WindsorONE is manufactured in the USA, and that we have sustained over 100 manufacturing jobs in our Country; and the reason this has been possible is because of our Core Customers… that is, the long-standing, dedicated W1 Dealers that have helped build Windsor Mill into what it is today, supporting the quality of our products.

As a thank you, and to continue to build upon win-win business relationships with each of you, we’re offering the following 4th of July Core-Customer-Promotion:

E-mail me two thoughts, and we’ll send you a unit of WindsorONE.  It’s that simple.

  • Thought #1: What’s the best attribute of WindsorONE that you use to sell our products to your customer base, and/or what is it about doing business with Windsor Mill that gives you a strategic advantage?
  • Thought #2: What would you like to see MORE of from us, and/or, what would you like to see us improve upon?

That’s it, that’s all you need to do, and you’ll receive a credit for a unit of WindsorONE on your next purchase.

In addition, if a second person from your organization e-mails me their own Two Thoughts answering the aforementioned, we’ll pay to send someone from your sales staff through Conceptual Selling, Miller Heiman’s impactful customer interaction strategy for winning sales opportunities.

Finally, for each additional person thereafter that e-mails me their Two Thoughts, we’ll send you 25 WindsorONE t-shirts to hand out to your customers.

The purpose of this exercise is to ultimately provide your Company with a better experience from Windsor Mill.  Please send us your well thought-out feedback, we’re taking this very serious, and we’ll listen to and act upon everything you submit.

In Solidarity,

Craig (caflynn@WindsorONE.com)

[This core-customer-promotion is for stocking WindsorONE dealers only; good through the week of July 4th]

Freeport Delays

[edit: containers through, we’re good to go, less interuption that we had anticipated]

There have been recent vessel delays at Freeport, which has disrupted WindsorONE fiber supply to our Surry, VA manufacturing plant.  We have already contacted our customers, and will continue to keep you up to date… and as always, post to this blog.  We expect about a week of possible WindsorONE shipment delays/disruptions; net result, week of June 28th there will likely be zero shipments from Surry, but quickly shipping again the following week, July 5th.

On March 29th, a tornado touched down at the Freeport port in the Bahamas, which is a major vessel/container transfer station.  They were able to bring the port back online relatively quickly, however they did sustain damage to some cranes, which has been causing disruptions the last couple of months.

To date, we have been able to work through the delays; however, on Thursday evening (17th) we were informed that two groups of containers will not reach the states on time, as they missed a vessel headed to Norfolk.  We have already made arrangements to have these containers routed to Charleston, where we will offload them and truck to Surry, VA.  We are also sending fiber across the country via truck from our Willits, CA plant.

Under normal operations, customers would not feel these disruptions as we would have plenty of raw material reserves stateside; we prepare our raw material pipeline for these types of delays.  Unfortunately, given current demand, we haven’t yet been able to build entirely back to pre Chile-8.8-quake state-side levels.

We currently do however have plenty of raw material in the pipeline, we just need to “umph” get it through Freeport.  The first group of containers is already on the water, and will arrive to Charleston on Sunday.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

In Solidarity,

Craig (craig@WindsorONE.com)