Last month, I joined an hour-long video panel called Getting Serious About Housing Supply, convened by the Bipartisan Policy Council. The topic was particularly relevant for me because I've been digging into permitting, population, and price across the country. The housing development process in the United States is lengthy, expensive, and uncertain. I have a review of the panel over at Forbes, kicking off a series there that focuses on the many hurdles a housing project has to clear before it is available to tenants.
Unfortunately, while the panel seemed to understand the lack of sufficient supply for housing, it steered away from basic economics into social programming as the solution for housing price problems. One of the panelists argued that single-family typology, among other things, reinforced traditional gender roles: a rambler ties women to a stove and a kitchen rather than going to work.
As I point out in my first post, this kind of observation is interesting insofar as dominant social norms drive consumer demand and, in turn, housing typology could reinforce those norms, but it doesn't address the real problem of housing prices: scarcity.
The answer to housing price problems begins not with more subsidies, but with lowering barriers to the market for housing producers. You can follow the series at Forbes where I cover Pre-Development, Entitlement, and Permitting. The series continues with a case study of how one regulatory intervention, Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, boosts the price of housing in the name of affordability.