Jordan Fraade asks:
Then he gives three good starting places: Declaration by the Democratic Socialists for America-Los Angeles against measure S.;; a short piece by Torrie Fischer about YIMBY socialism;; and Rick Jacobus’ excellent column in Shelterforce last year.
As for a kind of programmatic agenda, what we’re doing now, I think Jacobus handled it pretty closely. His big points:
- At regional level, all the evidence we have suggests that additional housing can absolutely slow down property price growth. Growing regions that want to avoid a sharp rise in housing costs have to build more living space.
- At the neighborhood level, the relationship is much more ambiguous. There must be tenant protection against the market, as we cannot count on the supply to balance the demand at a particular location.
- Modern rental control does not appear to have any serious harmful side effects, but it is also only moderately helpful to prevent displacement.
- Therefore, it is also important to create a large and growing inventory of housing whose price is not set by the market – whether in public or private ownership.
But I’m interested in examining how Jacobus (or I) got here: what kind of left-wing principles lead us to these conclusions and where could we have made different decisions?
I start from what I see as a kind of “soft socialism” in which our standard position is not to regulate a particular economic activity, but in our belief in egalitarian results and the tendency that markets are compulsive and destructive means we have a slight regulatory trigger.
I also expect this treatment be accommodated Since a fundamental right is undisputed, it goes without saying that the government intervenes to help those who are homeless (or heavily rented) in the market.
Who exactly would leave a really free housing market unhindered is an interesting question (about which I recently spoke with Salim Furth, Stephen Smith and others on Twitter), but is not helpful for the purposes of this post.
Instead, let us assume that the market optimists are right and that basically anyone with a full-time job in any metropolitan region would find affordable housing if only the supply of housing was not restricted by zoning laws that prevented new construction and banned traditional strategies for affordable housing such as Boarders and conversions from single units to multiple units. Let us assume that people who cannot work or cannot find work are provided with either a housing voucher or social housing. Let us also assume that we can all agree on regulations to ensure basic safety and hygiene standards for buildings.
Then what would be the advancing justifications for this? additionally Housing regulation? I can think of a few things:
Land is a quasi-monopolistic, undeserved source of wealth and a driver of inequality
One reason for regulation is that urban living, even in an environment that is mainly laissez-faire, is not infinitely producible, and it is certainly not infinitely producible in a particular place, and some places are much more valuable than others and people who find themselves owning land in the more valuable place are therefore able to earn economic rents for their quasi-monopoly homes.
As cities and economies grow, valuable urban land is usually only preserved even more valuableand so home ownership can be a major cause of wealth inequality. In fact, this seems to be the case in the real world.
Of course, this is not a real argument for regulating the production Housing: In fact, the existing building restrictions only make housing construction at these locations more monopoly-like and increase inequality. But it could be an argument for confiscating the undeserved wealth that urban home ownership generates, which you could either do with a confiscation Real estate taxor some kind of large audience Community Land Trust.
Even if a free housing market could create adequate affordable housing for all employees at market prices, it is extremely unlikely that it will create adequate affordable housing for all employees in all parts of the city at market prices. And since there are public goods and public services such as security, jobs, schools, parks, etc. to a certain degree Even locally, even some kind of loose equal opportunities liberalism would be concerned about geographic separation, either economically or along some other kind of privilege such as race.
Of course, this is also generally not an argument for limiting the production of housing: the evidence suggests that This is associated with more restrictive zoning More separation, not less. (And history suggests that this is mostly the case its intended purpose.) But it is an argument for more targeted subsidies or public housing to create a portfolio of low and middle income homes in areas where the market does not.
The moral right of Occupancy
We could also believe that housing stabilityThe ability to not move is so important to many people – both in a pragmatic way related to the logistics of everyday life and in a deeper, more confident way – that we want to prevent this. The market is forcing people to move their homes to leave, even if other affordable housing is available elsewhere.
This isn’t an argument for restricting housing production in itself, but it could have this effect if it prevents potential developers from moving tenants out of older buildings that they want to renovate. More directly, this can be an argument for a type of rent control or a targeted housing subsidy for people with rapidly rising housing costs – or for a guaranteed right to move into social housing near your old house.
Concern about the stability of housing Individualswe might be concerned about the stability of Communities.
This can take various forms. A loose version – the desire to enable social networks to maintain their physical proximity to one another – could be satisfied by protecting each and every member of the social network so that nothing beyond the section above would be required.
However, a stronger form of community-based protection could affect more than just the physical proximity of individuals. For example, it could be that for certain definitions of the community the built environment must be preserved as an important part of the community. A particular institutional environment may be required and restrictions may be required for businesses and other local entities. The most radical could be that the community requires not only the presence of its members, but also the absence of non-members – or at least a limited number of them.
These communitarian concerns are the most likely to require restrictions on new homes. They are obviously far more complex than my summary here, and in some cases – especially to the exclusion of non-community members – they open the door to a deeply troubling policy and are on questionable (if not undeniable!) Grounds, such as those from Politics communicated leftist principles. Although the word “community” is often used in housing debates, specific rights to housing are generally formulated individually. However, I think that in many cases logic is collaborative, and further elaboration of these ideas and principles could shed light on why people end up where they end up on neighborhood development issues.
Of course, this is far from a complete list. I hope other people can add or respond to something and criticize it!
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