Bad solutions are often introduced with the word “just.” A proponent will suggest, “Let’s just…,” or ask, “Why don’t we just…?” implying that their proposal is simple, obvious, and effective. If only! In practice, policy decisions generally involve complex trade-offs between diverse goals and impacts. It is planners’ responsibility to considered this complexity. Affordability planning is a good example. Many attractive and economically successful cities (e.g., New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver) are unaffordable; many households must spend more than 45% of their budgets on housing and transportation, leaving insufficient money for other essential goods such as healthcare, food, education, and fun. These high living costs prevent many responsible and hard-working families from living in desirable communities and make it difficult for employers to attract the talent they need for economic development. Virtually everybody benefits if any family that wants can find affordable housing in attractive and economically-successful cities.
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