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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 05/10/2012

Affordable housing and economics

When discussing housing affordability, there are two groups of advocates who are constantly talking past each other. Affordable housing groups do not engage with the economic arguments for building more housing, while proponents of expanding the housing supply don’t spend enough time thinking about how to ensure that an increased supply benefits everyone.

This week, Lydia DePillis of the City Paper critiqued affordable housing advocates for only talking about public programs that help lower-income people afford housing.

[A]ffordable housing shouldn’t be all about setting prices artificially low — it’s also about letting builders build the amount of housing this city needs.
I asked the author of the report, Jenny Reed, whether she’d thought about the land use aspect of affordable housing. She said that she’s interested in it — mentioning New York City’s consideration of changing its zoning to allow for micro-apartments, which would be useful in D.C. as well — but hasn’t done much research. It’s time to do the research. You can’t pretend to have a holistic housing strategy without addressing one of the biggest reasons why we don’t have more of it.

DePillis wonders if this partly stems from a cultural divide; affordable housing advocates may not want to stand on the same side as developers. I suspect there’s another cultural divide as well: Folks in the affordable housing movement don’t seem to be as comfortable talking in economic-speak.

[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  12:35 PM ET, 05/10/2012

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