It's All About Freedom!
The latest brouhaha in Woodbury has been over subsidized affordable housing. I am not going to side with those who oppose affordable housing, because I believe that it is good to have a variety of housing options available. On the other hand I am not going to side with those who think subsidized housing is a good idea, because it isn't.
The important question is why is there a shortage of affordable housing and what is the real long term solution to the problem. The affordable housing shortage is not a failure of the free market. It is the result of government interference in the market.
One way government interferes is by tearing down housing. In the 1960's and early 1970's the federal government was carrying out a massive "urban renewal" program. This program would have more appropriately been called "urban displacement."
According the governments own estimates, by 1975, "urban renewal" had torn down about a half million more low income housing units than it built. Much of the replacement housing consisted of the failed "projects" such as Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis which has since been demolished. The displaced lower income families were forced to either live in crime ridden projects or pay more for housing than they had been paying before the federal government forced them out.
Now the same people who brought us "urban renewal" are imposing "suburban renewal" upon us.They use terms such as "smart growth" and claim they want to end "urban sprawl." What will happen if they succeed is anything but smart.
By imposing restrictions on growth, these elitist planners are reducing the supply of available land for housing. It is economics 101 that reducing the supply of a product (in this case land) results in an increase in the price of the product.
Reducing the supply of land is not the only way the "smart growth" people have to reduce the amount of affordable housing. Ted Mondale (Metropolitan Council Chairman) and other "smart growth" supporters admit that the major purpose behind boondoggles like light rail is to increase housing density. Gee, if they increase housing density along the initial Hiawatha Avenue line in Minneapolis, won't they have to tear down affordable homes near the route?
Smart Growth is a code word for regional government, which means less (or no) local control. Smart growth will lead to even less affordable housing. If we care about affordable housing and if we want our children to be able to afford housing in the future, we should oppose smart growth and support freedom.
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Page Updated: December 31, 2006
© Copyright 1999 -2007 by Jim Rongstad. Permission to use is granted as long as author is acknowledged.