Howdy from Welcome Labs!
 
 
This monthly newsletter is for those that expressed interest in social impact and cities. Feel free to unsubscribe or, even better, encourage others to subscribe! :)
 
My name is Dan Wu and I help with law, marketing, and product at an AI and data ethics startup and did my JD and PhD (in policy and sociology) at Harvard.

I created Welcome Labs as a platform to discuss the future of inclusive housing and cities. How 
do we ethically create a world where people can meet their basic needs of housing, community, and privacy, regardless of their circumstances?
 
 
Welcome Notes
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Housing policy is paradoxical — it aims to build wealth yet meet our basic needs for housing. These two goals can harm each other. When housing is great at building wealth (see SF’s multi-million dollar housing valuations), housing is unaffordable. When housing is great at being affordable (see community land trusts), owners can't build much wealth because there are limitations on how much they can sell their housing for.
 
 
Home values SF (blue line) vs US (green)
 
 
You might find your next home on AmazonQuartz: Future of Home
 
Amazon’s (and Big Tech’s) move to housing is part of a trend to develop “housing as a service.” We’re automating key aspects of the housing value chain, such as construction (see Amazon, Blokable, and Module), brokering (see iBuyers like Zillow and Opendoor), renting (see coliving operators like Starcity, Common, and Ollie), and maintenance (see smart home tech like Alexa and others). 
 
lol
 
lol.
 
 
 
Google’s Sidewalk Toronto is built from the ground-up to collect an astonishing amount of data. Each home is embedded with smart thermostats, occupancy sensors, and always-on public cameras. The stated goal is to optimize data to gain social benefit, such as the reduction of pedestrian fatalities. Yet several key advisors have resigned from the project due to concerns about privacy,  transparency, and ownership. For instance, Dr. Ann Cavoukian — Ontario’s privacy commissioner — resigned due to fears that Sidewalk will create hyper-specific profiles of people’s lives, surveilling their every move. The takeaway: maybe data protection and privacy aren’t dead.
 
 
 
Drawing from Vancouver and Amsterdam, Sidewalk Toronto argues for stronger affordability targets, perpetually-affordable housing for units funded by public tax dollars, an affordable housing fund, and a reduction of tourist-facing housing and retail.
 
DW’s take: There’s some good ideas in here. But they should also consider ideas from these other geographies that focus on (1) community-driven development like Denmark and Austria's Baugruppen, (2) cost-efficiency like Japan's building policy and UK's "naked" housing, and (3) new ownership models like NYC's land trusts and limited-equity coops.
 
 
 
Here are startups using data-driven tools to empower tenants. Included in the NYT list: HeatSeek (helps renters record temperatures), Displacement Alert Project (maps areas areas at risk of displacement),  Justfix.nyc (helps tenant organizers), Housing Data Coalition, and Who Owns What (see what other buildings your landlord owns). Others not in the NYT article that deserve mention are Rentlogic (grades for buildings), DoNotPay (robot lawyers for tenants), Squared Away (track tenant issues), Tenants in Action (report housing violations), Eviction Lab (track evictions nationwide), and Whose Your Landlord (rate your landlord).
 
 
What Do You Think?
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What do you think of the goal to make housing both affordable and wealth-building?
 
Give your take on our linkedin group here or respond back to this email.
 
DW’s take: We need new ownership mechanisms to ensure housing is permanently affordable, such as those I explore in Shareable. Investors may still be interested in these models, which can provide stable cash flows, rather than appreciation, as Turner Impact Capital argues. As a friend mentioned, housing is so tense because NIMBYs are worried about threats to their "nest egg." Delinking housing from wealth creation, then, might mean more rational ways forward.
 
 
Events of Interest
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Email me to suggest other events you want to share with people here and, of course, feel free to join me at any of these.  
 
December 4 - The Emerging Risks of Artificial Intelligence to Privacy and Security. 5:30-8 PM EST. Kramer Levin in Midtown.  
 
December 5 - Urban-X Holiday Party. 6-9 PM EST. A/D/O in Greenpoint.
 
December 12 - Housing Innovation dinner. 6-9 PM EST. Email me if you want more details.
 
December 13 - NYC Leadership Summit for Smart Cities. 1-5 PM EST. Company in Midtown.
 
December 18 - Progressive Hacknight. 6:30-9 PM EST. Thoughtworks in Midtown.
 
 
Jobs
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Have an open role on your team? Email dwu@jd17.law.harvard.edu and I'll publish it in the next newsletter.
 
Here are jobs as posted in Urban.us
 
 
 
Opportunities
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Career Advice
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In a social network study of a company's top 650 leaders, researchers found that "rockstar" performers with strong networks were better at: (1) responding quickly; (2) writing simpler emails, especially with clear subject lines; and (3) reaching out and forwarding important news to others. 
 
 
 Google's intense study found that its highest-performing teams scored high on "psychological safety" where (1) members spoke in roughly the same proportion and (2) members were empathetic to each other's emotions. Vulnerability is key. People, especially managers, should "open up about their struggles" to shift norms toward psychological safety. 
 
 
Questions from the Community
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Reply back to this email with your thoughts or fill out this form. I'll share answers in the next newsletter. 
 
  • What are other housing ventures and policies that excite you and why? Here's our initial map of housing ventures.
 
  • How do you determine which projects optimally further your goals the most?
 
 
 
Until Next Time...
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Thanks for reading and keep being amazing! :)  
 
P.S. - Like what you're reading? Think it could be better? Give me feedback in <1 min hereemail back at dwu@jd17.law.harvard.edu, or add me on linkedin here.
 
P.P.S - If you like what you see, feel free to subscribe here.
 
 
 
About Welcome Labs
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Welcome Labs is a community focused on inclusive housing and innovation. Dan Wu curated this newsletter. If you'd like to learn more about me, here are some other projects I've worked on.
 
Here's some of my most popular content:
 
 
 
 
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