'We stopped paying for the American dream in 2008': Redfin CEO

Glenn Kelman would like to see a substantial investment in housing and in the middle class next year

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman believes the U.S. has neglected the middle class, leaving an entire generation with little savings and few roots to any particular place.

Kelman also hopes that 2019 sees a reversal of this trend, predicting that next year “our society is going to begin to make a substantial investment in housing.”

The comments came in a two minute video Kelman posted Thursday to LinkedIn, where he came off sounding as much like an urbanist as a tech brokerage executive. In the video, Kelman decried the lack of investment in the “infrastructure of the middle class that was so abundantly available in America and other countries at the end of World War II.”

“I’m talking about starter homes, but also new mass transit and public schools,” Kelman continued. “We still have entitlement programs for the poor, sick and elderly. We have savings plans for college and capital gains tax breaks for the wealthy. But what about the middle class?”

The result of this situation, Kelman continued, is that an entire generation is “growing up without putting down roots.” He specifically singled out working class and younger Americans, the latter of whom have little savings and are left “living in their parent’s basements.”

The comments echo a long string of headlines in recent years showing that millennials — generally defined as people born in the 1980s and 1990s — face lasting economic setbacks compared to previous generations, are crushed by debt, and rely on family members for funds when buying houses.

In the video, Kelman identified the housing bubble a decade ago as the origin of the problem.

“We stopped paying for the American dream in 2008 without realizing how rootless American society would become as a result,” he said.

Kelman wrapped up his video by plugging the housing plan of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is widely considered a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Warren unveiled her plan in September, and it would devote billions of dollars to bolstering the stock of affordable housing and revamping infrastructure. Analysts have said that the plan could significantly increase the number affordable housing units being built each year.

Warren’s plan, Kelman said, would help correct rootlessness and make it possible for people to “decide to live somewhere for a long time.”

“And we as a society have to make it easier for people to do that,” he added. “Policies on the left and the right, starting with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s housing plan, will start to address that, and I for one am so glad.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II