Getting serious about affordable housing
When I was at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Kansas City, I saw a speaker argue that walkability increases property values (a proposition I'm not taking a position on, at least not in this blog post). When someone asked about affordability, he suggested inclusionary zoning as a solution.
I am perfectly willing to stipulate for the sake of argument that inclusionary zoning may be an appropriate solution in a cheap city like Kansas City, where housing is affordable for most people most of the time, and only a few poorer people have great difficulty finding housing. But in expensive cities like New York and San Francisco, affordability isn't just a problem for the poor; its a problem for the middle and upper middle class. In such places, setting aside a few units for "affordable" housing is not going to prevent housing prices from affecting the region's quality of life. Instead, we should seriously think about whether it is good for a city to have housing prices far exceeding incomes.
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