The Washington Post

Affordable housing and economics

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.


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