The Oct. 12 news story "Housing Crunch Worsens for Poor" applauded the actions of the federal government in allocating more money for housing vouchers and implied that this is the most viable solution to help the poor obtain low-cost housing. But this "solution" may only worsen the problem. The article claims that only with "government help" can these people afford housing. But housing "shortages" are typically created by the government through rent ceilings.

By artificially holding rents down, the government promotes an increase in housing demand while at the same time decreasing the housing supply. This happens because at a lower price, more people want housing, while those who supply it might not want to rent at the artificially low price. Rent ceilings also encourage landlords to devolve into slum lords. If landlords can charge only artificially low rent, what incentives do they have to maintain their apartments?

Zoning laws also inhibit the development of housing in places such as deserted industrial zones. When zoning laws prevent the supply of housing from keeping up with the demand, housing becomes scarce, and housing costs rise.

The article suggested that land is being misused with the creation of "yuppie subdivisions." In fact, such subdivisions help the poor because people who move into single-family homes usually move from an apartment, creating an apartment vacancy, which usually is filled by someone leaving a lower-cost apartment.

Despite the article's implications, government action caused the plight of the poor, while building single-family homes helps the poor. Government won't solve a problem it created.

DEREK K. YONAI

Fairfax