Housing Crisis Due To Government's Failure To Plan

Local government's preoccupation with regulating development and its failure to provide public infrastructure and maintain an attractive public realm is at the root of the current lack of affordable housing.
September 16, 2006, 5am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Everybody is talking about the major crunch in middle class housing â€" even after a decade long housing boom of historic proportions, in which 69% of households own their own home. The reason is quite simple: it is becoming financially and politically infeasible to build middle class housing in the two places most likely to absorb new construction â€" suburban greenfields and existing urban and suburban neighborhoods. In both cases, government policy is responsible."

"Governments across the country have failed to fulfill their mission of providing the infrastructure and the public realm framework for new development. In many places, the only government contribution to the public realm of development is a highway. The rest â€" sewers, roads, and open space â€" is expected to come from the developers. As a result, infrastructures are soon strained to capacity, the public realm is hideous, and citizens â€" is it any surprise? â€" cry out for an end to development."

"Some governments have attempted to compensate on the cheap by exacting concessions from developers to build parks, schools, and other public facilities. The result is that development becomes still more expensive (an expense inevitably passed through to home buyers), the facilities are minimal, and development pressure shapes the public realm and infrastructure, rather than vice versa."

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Published on Tuesday, August 22, 2006 in The New York Sun
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