Using the Wrong Tools to Build Affordable Housing
Along with most Rooflines readers, I believe that having some portion of a community’s housing as long term or permanently affordable is a desirable policy goal. That said, though, I’ve found myself wondering what might be the best way to actually pursue that goal. It is by no means obvious that the default answer of “build it” is the right one. About eight years ago, I spent a few weeks in France talking to developers, nonprofits, and public officials there about how they did affordable housing. It’s well known that from the 1950s through the '70s, France built huge public housing projects, a lot of them on the outskirts of major cities, only to see many of them turn into a social nightmare. The French learned some lessons from this experience. As a result, they came up with a very different approach.