The Guardian: Why we need social housing in the US

The Guardian: Why we need social housing in the US
April 6, 2018 Peter

The debate about how to resolve our nation’s housing crisis is stuck in a frustrating rut. One side of the divide, calling themselves yimbys (Yes in my back yard), say we should allow private developers to build more housing units. On the other side of the divide are anti-gentrification campaigners who maintain that unleashed private developers will construct luxury housing that pushes up neighborhood rents and displaces local residents. What makes this debate so intractable is that both sides have a point. The only way to fit more people into an area is to build more housing units. This is just how physical reality works. At the same time, we have seen neighborhoods across the country change rapidly after an initial stage of new developments or amenities made living in the surrounding housing units more attractive to affluent renters. Adding luxury housing units can bring down the rents of an overall region while simultaneously raising them in a specific neighborhood, causing displacement. There is a solution to this impasse though. In a paper released by People’s Policy Project (3P) on Thursday, my colleagues Peter Gowan and Ryan Cooper propose that municipal governments across the country build millions of units of social housing. An influx of publicly owned, efficiently built apartments would add to the housing supply while minimizing the displacement risks caused by luxury developments.

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