A 'One Size Fits All' Rule For Affordable Housing Doesn't Work

<p>Requiring all cities and towns to building affordable housing is bad policy. The focus should be on building housing in existing urban areas near jobs and transit, not in rural and suburban towns.</p>
May 29, 2008, 5am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"The conflict between two competing and legitimate needs - low- and moderate-income housing and breathing room - is a national problem. Anyone who drives into rural areas of Pennsylvania, New York and other northeastern states is struck by the number of houses mushrooming on what just a few years ago were huge stretches of farmland.

Under New Jersey's plan, which could take effect in October, one unit of affordable housing would have to be built for every five units of market-rate housing. The current required ratio is one for every eight. Commercial developers, meanwhile, would be required to provide one new affordable housing unit for every 16 jobs generated by commercial development. Both requirements could go a long way toward meeting the state's need for at least 115,000 new affordable housing units.

The downside is that the rules will put more pressure on rural towns to build housing: assigning them an "obligation" for new affordable units within their borders. That makes little economic sense. Many small towns offer no real job opportunities and no public transportation to places where the jobs exist."

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Published on Monday, May 26, 2008 in The New York Times
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