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YIMBY Housing Policies Gain Support Among Democratic Candidates for President

A growing chorus of candidates seeking to challenge Donald Trump in 2020 are voicing support for the idea of relaxing zoning and land use restrictions to encourage the development of more housing supply in expensive U.S. cities.
July 31, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Democratic Debate
Linda Parton

Jenny Schuetz writes the latest in an emerging narrative about the interest of Democratic candidates for president in the nation's housing supply for The Atlantic, even using the word YIMBY to describe the pro-development politics emerging from the more liberal of the two country's political parties.

Schuetz writes:

Last week, Amy Klobuchar became the latest Democratic presidential hopeful to say out loud that cities and towns need to let people build more housing. She joined Cory Booker, Julián Castro, and Elizabeth Warren in proposing a more active federal role in getting state and local governments to loosen zoning rules—a topic that, up to now, has not figured prominently in campaigns for the White House.

According to Schuetz, the interest in the nation's affordability crisis in housing acknowledges that housing is a area of U.S. life that a president should care about and work to improve—even if there are still disagreements on specific. While there is a significant number of newly minted YIMBY among the presidential candidates, there is also, for example, Bernie Sanders, who recently wrote an op-ed that prioritized more traditionally progressive housing policies like rent control, inclusionary zoning for affordable housing, and increased funding for federal housing programs.

The larger narrative Schuetz identifies is that the interest of presidential candidates in housing reflects a middle class currently feeling the pinch.

During the fall of 2008, a glut of subprime home loans had brought the nation’s financial system to the point of collapse, and mortgage foreclosures hit levels not seen since the Great Depression. How the government should respond loomed large over the debates between the nominees, Barack Obama and John McCain. In the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, several candidates are zeroing in on a different problem in the housing market: Americans are having more and more trouble finding homes and apartments they can afford in the parts of the country where well-paid jobs are being created.

Still, according to Schuetz, despite the emerging electoral interest in housing policy and the housing stress facing many Americans, the candidates' proposals have yet to become a cornerstone of any of the candidates' campaign, and the subject was once again largely absent from the first night of the second round of debates.

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Published on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 in The Atlantic
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