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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.

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