Gongol.com Archives: June 2024

Brian Gongol

June 3, 2024

Business and Finance Maximize housing production now

The concept of home has a powerful hold on the American mind. The objective of our national pastime is to arrive at home plate. A majority of the states have some version of the castle doctrine enshrined in state law. Americans spend upwards of $11 billion a year on motorhomes. ■ Perhaps this effect is especially pronounced in America because so many people are either actively or vestigially aware that they descend from refugees or other immigrants driven from their homes somewhere else. Half a dozen generations removed from the Great Famine, some Irish Americans can still be found invoke holy protection of their homes with St. Brigid's crosses. Many other cultures behave similarly. ■ With rising mortgage interest rates appearing to have real consequences for homeownership rates, we should reckon with the range of factors that tend to drive up the cost of homeownership. We don't do very well at laying out high-density transportation options near high-density living options. Our predominant zoning patterns discourage innovations in the "missing middle" of housing. Financing conventions have long penalized economical options like manufactured housing. ■ Many of the problems come down to local choices and regulations, which in turn are often driven by inertia, fear of policy innovation, and a general lack of imagination. But maximizing the supply of safe, dignified, and affordable housing isn't just consistent with a sort of atmospheric Americanism; it's also well-established that stable housing contributes meaningfully to a number of important health measures. ■ Stories like profiles of the homeless high school valedictorian should urge us to a greater awareness of the need to press hard for the policies that would maximize the supply of housing options that provide security, safety, and stability -- even if they start from a modest base. If the sod house can have a place in American myth, surely we can find ways to open up wider paths to suitable options for the modern world.

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