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The Far-Reaching Effects of the Housing Crisis

When housing costs are high, lower-income residents are not the only ones who end up struggling.
January 14, 2020, 12pm PST | Camille Fink
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High housing costs do not just affect those people who are priced out of an area, writes Ally Schweitzer. Businesses, local governments, and higher-income residents who can afford to stay all feel the impacts.

Take traffic, for example. "Add more residents to an area, the logic goes, and you put more cars on the road. But there’s evidence that not building housing can make traffic worse," says Schweitzer. When low-income workers have to live further out, they end up on the roads driving to work.

In addition, businesses need workers from a range of income levels. When housing is unaffordable, finding low-wage workers becomes harder for all employers, notes Schweitzer. "And wealthy homeowners in places like Chevy Chase [in Maryland]? They’re affected by housing affordability when their gardeners, nannies and maids can’t afford to live anywhere nearby."

High housing costs burden residents, which means they do not have money to spend at local businesses, adds Schweitzer. "Increasing housing supply — and keeping housing prices in check — 'could result in greater consumption of other goods and services that stimulate growth and employment gains in other sectors, which could have a multiplier effect,' according to the Urban Institute."

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Published on Thursday, January 9, 2020 in WAMU
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