March 24, 2005

Reducing Housing Costs

The New York Times figures out that high housing costs mean few kids in urban neighborhoods. All those intensely creative places where all the hip people gather just don't have the right mix of low costs, space, and safety to attract children. Two bit really got my goat though:

"I don't think we're going to become a nearly childless city like San Francisco, but the age structure is really changing," said Barry Edmonston, an urban studies professor at Portland State, who does demographic projections for the school district. "People are not turning over the houses like they used to. They're aging in place, at the same time that prices are really going up, making it hard for young families to move into the city."
But what they cannot do, especially after the failure last year of a ballot measure sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce to encourage affordable housing, is bring housing prices down.

It's nonsense to say that you can't bring housing prices down. It's blind to imagine that the end of housing mobility is just happening at random. Both are artifacts of the dominant trend of urban zoning and the political pathology of rent control. If you make it harder to create housing by increasing rule compliance costs you will get less housing. With that reduction in supply prices will predictably rise. With rent control, moving means a massive rent hike so people stay put and avoid moving up to a bigger place for as long as possible. The less housing churn, the fewer opportunities there are to move in, the less liquid the market is, the riskier it becomes to move.

It's a favorite of those on the left to talk about unsustainable strategies, extolling sustainable growth. It looks like they're waking up to the fact that their bastions, the blue cities, are themselves unsustainable without massive immigration from other places and other ways of life.

HT: Dynamist Blog

Posted by TMLutas at March 24, 2005 03:40 PM