Sunday, 5 July 2015

'The rent is too damn high' >>> tackling affordable housing

The lack of affordable housing is seen as a 'national crisis':
Futures Forum: The Affordable Housing Crisis @ Radio 4
Futures Forum: Affordable housing: the political parties' policies >>> an overview

The need for affordable housing is acute in East Devon - and has been for some time:
Campaign to end housing crisis as prices rise to more than 11 times region's average wage | Western Morning News
Futures Forum: Affordable housing in East Devon: lack of building... and lack of transparency...

Here's a sample of cases from across the District:

More low cost homes for Axminster - News - Midweek Herald February 2015
Axminster's desperate need for more affordable homes - View from Sidmouth March 2011
AXE VALLEY: Housing crisis hits East Devon - View from Sidmouth March 2011

Completion of affordable housing one of biggest achievements of the year - View from Sidmouth June 2015 

Exmouth developers ‘want to meet local need for new homes’ | Express & Echo February 2015

Councillors defend affordable housing need in Lyme Regis as local vent fury at development plans (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News) June 2015

There are several proposed 'solutions':
Futures Forum: Shared ownership: rally in Westminster Tues March 17th >>> calling on politicians “to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation”
Futures Forum: Garden Villages ... "Empowering localism to solve the housing crisis"
Futures Forum: Building on the green belt: the case for
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: "empowerment and ownership" through design and community development

One would be to 'reduce regulation':
Futures Forum: Adam Smith and rationing housing supply
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: free up the market for truly affordable housing

A couple of years ago, a book attempted to transcend the usual political divides:

The Rent Is Too Damn High: What To Do About It, And Why It Matters More Than You Think

Matthew Yglesias March 6, 2012

From prominent political thinker and widely followed Slate columnist, a polemic on high rents and housing costs—and how these costs are hollowing out communities, thwarting economic development, and rendering personal success and fulfillment increasingly difficult to achieve.

Rent is an issue that affects nearly everyone. High rent is a problem for all of us, extending beyond personal financial strain. High rent drags on our country’s overall rate of economic growth, damages the environment, and promotes long commutes, traffic jams, misery, and smog. Yet instead of a serious focus on the issue, America’s cities feature niche conversations about the availability of “affordable housing” for poor people. Yglesias’s book changes the conversation for the first time, presenting newfound context for the issue and real-time, practical solutions for the problem.

Amazon.com: The Rent Is Too Damn High: What To Do About It, And Why It Matters More Than You Think eBook: Matthew Yglesias: Kindle Store

A positive review from a conservative
By jsmitty on April 5, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

Yglesias is one of the real bright lights of the progressive blogosphere. As a conservative who has been reading politics his whole life, I can attest that he is "Exhibit A" in my overall case that liberals have dramatically upped their policy advocacy game, while conservatives have stagnated, largely intellectually stuck in the assumptions and narratives of the Reagan era. Back then most liberals were for rent controls, opposed development because they hated developers or on spurious environmental grounds, and thought the solution to inner city problems like crime and declining quality of life were more HUD grants. Liberals were fish in a barrel for conservatives armed with facts and only a rudimentary knowledge of how markets worked. And the evidence of failed liberal policies in inner cities was obvious to anyone with two eyes. People with jobs and money fled to the suburbs while urban liberals kept telling the same shaggy dog stories.

But Yglesias is different. For one thing, he's a mostly free market liberal who argues based on facts and data rather than on liberal tales of vicitimization and woe. As an exponent of the urban renaissance that came about through better policing, longer prison sentences for street criminals, and the gradual demolition of public housing (aka govt. created slums), he has alot of interesting observations not only in the ways liberals have gone wrong when it comes to housing policy but how conservatives have as well. Although lacking in any formal economics training, he shows all the various ways in which markets could address and would address the affordable housing shortage in many of the best big cities, but can't because of regulations. Yes...environmental and historic preservation regs, but mostly because of zoning. This more than anything else suppresses the level of urban building creating artificial shortages in the most desirable areas to live. In short, people who would want to buy housing, developers who would want to design the buildings, and workers who would want the job building them--all are left empty because markets are not permitted to function. Consequently the pent up demand can only be satisfied with either 1) urban sprawl, in which people often have to spend more time and money every day commuting or 2) migration to cheaper often lower wage cities, implicitly trading cheaper housing for less income and productivity.

And as Yglesias points out, conservatives, despite their free market rhetoric, are as much a part of the problem as liberals---more in some cases. Conservatives often champion "free" roads, minimum parking requirements, lot sizes and building height restrictions--implicitly supporting both sprawl and neighborhoods that are out of financial reach for many average earners. Ironically, if more people could afford to live closer into the cities in housing that was more moderately priced, many of these same suburbanites would find life more pleasant and less congested in the suburbs as well. And liberals concerned about global warming have no excuse to not champion lots of tall apartment buildings right around public transportation hubs.

In short, Yglesias, whether he realizes it or not, maps out a future potential liberal/conservative pro-growth pro-development alliance, that, if ever realized, would make many of America's best cities even better.

As one conservative who wishes his party would begin to offer real solutions to actual solvable problems of 2012 (as opposed to 1982), it would be great if more of my ideological brethren would take to heart some of Yglesias' ideas here!

PS..rest assured many of the people who gave this little e-book a 1 surely didn't read it.

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Rent Is Too Damn High: What To Do About It, And Why It Matters More Than You Think

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