The Best Option in a Housing Crisis: Build More

Some oppose housing on the grounds that building in expensive cities just makes more homes for rich people. According to and, while there's some truth to that, adding housing beats the alternative.
April 30, 2018, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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After an aggressive housing bill, SB 827, failed in committee, the discussion about how to solve California's housing woes continue, offering examples for other expensive markets all over the country. While some of its critics complained the zoning reform included in SB 827 would only create more housing for the rich, Matthew Yglesias argues there's no great alternative. "California will continue to suffer from exorbitant housing costs that contribute to the highest poverty rate in the nation when judged by the Supplemental Poverty Measure," Yglesias writes for Vox.

While some contend that people would be better off just moving to cheaper cities, Yglesias points out the trade offs. "Obviously it’s well-known that elite professionals can earn superstar wages in superstar cities. But the fact of the matter is that everyone earns higher wages in affluent cities, for basically the same reason that everyone from Mexican day laborers to Indian computer programmers can greatly increase their earnings by immigrating to the United States — places matte."

Even a cook at McDonald’s makes more in Los Angeles than she would in other cities around the country. "You could help out LA’s existing population of fast-food workers with price controls, but for the much larger population of Americans who might benefit from moving to California if only the prices were more reasonable, you need to simultaneously address the price of housing and the overall quantity of dwellings," Yglesias writes.

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Published on Friday, April 20, 2018 in Vox
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