Skip to main content

Housing affordability and ownership bias

If we want housing affordability, we'll have to confront our bias toward home ownership. While it has some sound reasoning, it's a brush applied too broadly. The expression of this bias has often done real harm to lower income individuals and families.

It's not possible to have constant, high appreciation of home values and affordable homes. It's not possible to have affordable rents and unaffordable homes (without subsidy).

You can try to force landlords to provide the subsidy, by rent control, but eventually they'll just sell out to homeowners. Those that remain will operate in areas where appreciation is not expected, home value is depressed, and rent control does not have effect. Unfortunately these areas will be the least desirable, either from crime, access to transit, pollution, or some other element that has real costs on the well being of residents.

If we want equitable housing, we should abandon the policies that restrict housing supply, and we should subsidize the rent payments of those in need. This will provide them with a degree of flexibility to disperse throughout cities, which is well known to be a strategy to provide greater opportunity which might translate to better quality outcomes for their future or children's future.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commit to Long Term Testing

Expanding testing is very important now.  It's also clearly an area we were unprepared.  We should commit to having testing capacity long term, to both provide more certainty to anyone expanding testing capacity today, and to be prepared in the future. I had some thoughts about how this testing would be best structured.  It's not possible to test for an contagious disease you're not aware of, but much of the infrastructure for doing so can already be in place, ready to be adapted.  That infrastructure would roughly boil down to a) sample collection b) sample handling c) sample preparation d) sample analysis e) materials: reagents, etc. Scaling these up from scratch is quite a bit more work than adapting to a new contagion.  A commitment to having that infrastructure would have helped a lot with the current crisis. Right now, the focus is rightfully on health care workers, suspected cases and essential workers.  In terms of preparation though, in the early stages

The promise (and pitfalls) of index based insurance

Insurance in developing nations is far less broadly available than developed ones.  In addition, the risks that citizens of developing nations face, are often much more numerous and severe.  Crop-insurance is a common element of agricultural policy in the United States, but less common in Ethiopia.  As Ethiopia has a much higher percentage of their population engaged in agriculture, shocks, such as drought, crop disease, or severe weather have big impacts. Insurance's basic principle is simple, spreading risk across a broader pool.  When harmed, you get assistance to lessen the impact, when you're not harmed, your payments cover the costs of others who are.  But deciding who is harmed is a very time consuming task.  Preventing fraud is important to staying competitive, when looking at private enterprise, and important to public trust when dealing with public programs.  But preventing fraud places burdens not only on the insurance provider, but the claimants.  Having to prove

Finding your way: Public Transit and Uber

Uber has been disruptive in many ways.  One way, which has been a great disappointment, is the effect on public transit systems.  It was once hoped that ride hailing would provide an assist to public transit, as a gateway to abandoning car ownership.  There have also been hopes that suburban commuters would use ride-hailing as their connection to public-transit which is not accessible by walking in these areas.   Multiple studies have confirmed these hopes have largely not materialized, and public-transit has been weakened . Cities have reacted, mostly by putting barriers to ride-hailing growth.  Sometimes they are collecting extra fees, sometimes placing new requirements.  But mostly these efforts don't do much to change the relationship between ride-hailing and public-transit. I work with a local group that spends time thinking about automated car policy, how to get the most good and the least bad.  We've discussed a proposal that fits ride-hailing, in the here and now,