Seeing this problem, many people then demand that the government ‘do something’ about it. Typically, that ‘something’ involves spending more money or issuing a new raft of regulations. Thus, the $40 million Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has earmarked in his 2019 budget for affordable housing and the $71 million, three-year housing initiative which Saint Paul’s Mayor, Melvin Carter, has announced.
But before rushing in to spend and regulate away the lack of ‘affordable housing’, shouldn’t they take some time to ask how it arose?
When, in 2017, the Pioneer Press surveyed 60 government officials, builders, Realtors, housing and energy lobbyists, and home buyers on the causes of high housing costs in the Twin Cities they found that “…regulations, including energy-saving rules and safety codes, are tougher and costlier than in surrounding states…The cost of metro-area land is elevated by centralized planning, larger mandated lot sizes and a public resistance to development [and] An increasing use of city fees, tucked into the price of a new house, can add tens of thousands of dollars.”
As Thomas Sowell wrote about the Bay Area’s own “affordable housing shortage,” it’s “The Housing Price of Liberalism.”
In this part of California, liberalism reigns supreme and “open space” is virtually a religion. What that lovely phrase means is that there are vast amounts of empty land where the law forbids anybody from building anything.
Anyone who has taken Economics 101 knows that preventing the supply from rising to meet the demand means that prices are going to rise. Housing is no exception.
Yet when my wife wrote in a local Palo Alto newspaper, many years ago, that preventing the building of housing would cause existing housing to become far too expensive for most people to afford it, she was deluged with more outraged letters than I get from readers of a nationally syndicated column.
What she said was treated as blasphemy against the religion of “open space” — and open space is just one of the wonderful things about the world envisioned by liberals that is ruinously expensive in the mundane world where the rest of us live.
As Sowell writes, “Much as many liberals like to put guilt trips on other people, they seldom seek out, much less acknowledge and take responsibility for, the bad consequences of their own actions.”