Housing crisis

The housing crisis more than “capitalism” – The Durango Herald

I am writing in response to Ben Waddell’s October 1 article: “The housing crisis is not a crisis. It is capitalism. I appreciate Waddell’s contribution to my hometown and my alma mater, and agree with some of his points. I’d like to explore factors other than “capitalism” that contribute to the affordable housing crisis that can be addressed through local action.

If we’re being honest, voters, conservationists and neighborhood associations also share the blame for policies reducing the stock of affordable housing available. The offensive “ism” is as much “NIMBYism” (not in my backyard) as it is capitalism. Coastal California, Portland, Santa Fe, Seattle and Telluride all suffer from an acute shortage of affordable housing.

They all share a progressive policy and devote significant financial resources to the issue. Why can’t they make a dent despite popular and financial support? Because obvious solutions are unpopular. Sometimes also, benevolent intention has negative consequences. No solution is free, and the most effective solutions come at a cost to existing home prices, “neighborhood character”, conservation and open space.

The problem is not only that financial interests want to buy trailer parks, but also that there are not enough trailer parks. Revising zoning to increase density, make construction cheaper, allow mobile homes, reduce the burden of historic designations, and require all new developments to include affordable housing are all examples of actions we can take to increase the supply of affordable housing.

If we put other interests ahead of affordable housing, that’s fine. Let’s be honest about it instead of blaming it all on malevolent outside forces.

Benjamin Chisler

Austin, TX