We’re back with the third episode of Upzoned, a new podcast from Strong Towns! Sometimes, a hot new story will cross our desks that we need to talk about right away. That's where Upzoned comes in. Join Kea Wilson, Chuck Marohn, and occasional surprise guests to talk in depth about just one big story from the week in the Strong Towns conversation, right when you want it: now.


Are house flippers exactly what the Rust Belt needs to recover from decades of systemic disinvestment, or a dangerous speculative game that fragile places shouldn’t be playing?

That’s what Kea and Chuck are talking about on this week’s Upzoned, and it’s a lively debate. Chuck, who lives in small-town Minnesota, is excited by the idea that ordinary people with a few basic home-repair skills can turn their sweat equity into a decent living while gently helping neighborhoods recover from decline. Kea, who grew up in Cleveland and Michigan and now owns and manages a handful of apartments in her new hometown of St. Louis, MO, is a little more cautious: she’s seen developers like the kind Chuck’s describing, but she’s seen far more flippers buy buildings en masse, do shoddy renovations, and transform neighborhoods in a way that’s far from gentle. And when cities give tax increment financing to help these speculative flippers do it even bigger, things can get even uglier.

Listen in to hear them hash it out, and dig into the arguments from Reuters's recent article, How Tech Jobs Helped Rust Belt Become House Flipping Hot Spot.  And then in the Downzone, Chuck and Kea talk about Extant, a sci-fi TV show that Chuck’s been bingeing, Chuck’s most recent read (The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy by Maria Mazzucato), and Florida by Lauren Groff, a collection of place-based short stories that Kea loved.

(Cover photo via Wikimedia Commons.)