Friday, March 13, 2009

Affordable housing - Some good questions.

Excellent questions posed by Thomas Sowell at this link Here is one below. Many more. I'm sure these questions are going through a lot of heads but don't look for Washington to give you straight answers.

The same politicians who have been talking about a need for "affordable housing" for years are now suddenly alarmed that home prices are falling. How can housing become more affordable unless prices fall?
The political meaning of "affordable housing" is housing that is made more affordable by politicians intervening to create government subsidies, rent control or other gimmicks for which politicians can take credit.
Affordable housing produced by market forces provides no benefit to politicians and has no attraction for them

I came back to this post to add a comment from a reader I missed from the link I origianlly found Sowell's post. I think the commentary associated with Blogs is a significant "value add" . The notion that Blogging is an extended converstion is strengthened by this. Please add your thoughts by clicking the comments belwo each post.

Pretty good article by Sowell. It does, however, illustrate one of the pitfalls that conservatives and libertarians encounter when trying to get their message out. He is, of course, spot on when he points out that bailing out one set of people in order to keep them in houses comes precisely at the expense of another set who would have the same homes (now “affordable housing”), were prices allowed to fall naturally. But he can’t resist taking little digs at the former group, saying we “indulge” their living “high on the hog,” and referring to their “bad decisions” in the title of the piece.
This may all be true, but it is the type of rhetoric that fills leftists with outward indignation and inward glee. They will spin this article and cherry-pick quotes to make it sound like Dr. Sowell is a heartless bastard who blames poor victims for their own misfortunes. Worse still, members of the less-engaged public are likely to be receptive to this one-sided depiction.
In this case, it is abundantly clear that the aid rendered to one unfortunate group that we would like to help comes directly at the expense of another equal-sized and perhaps even more deserving group. This is a general principle of government action, but usually benefits are concentrated and costs are diffused in a manner that obscures the equal (or greater) harm incurred. Better to draw attention to the zero-sum nature of intervention in this teaching moment rather than cast aspersions on the unfortunate and play into the “cold greedy incompassionate market fundamentalist” rhetoric

1 comment:

Sarah Marks said...

The rhetoric is all hot air until a way is found to keep families in homes. Families create a stable community. Families are self-governing and can lead to less impact on the community in many areas like crime and the cost to the department of Health and Human Services. A home is key to this.

Part of this is laziness taught in these low income communities no doubt. I have seen children and adults come out of mud housing in Haiti and their clothes are pressed and clean always and there is no trash outside their homes. This is because they are taught pride no matter how poor they are.
Poor in the U.S. have no pride.

Here is the cost of housing for someone who makes $10/hour. Where can they go, but to the slumlords who keep the property looking like a hellhole. Then the families continue letting it look like a hellhole with trash everywhere. Who's to blame?


Rhetoris is just that until there is some action within each community to turn low income housing into more attractive housing where there is pride in the community. One community at a time.

Gross Income 20000 = 10 per hour
Net Income 15% tax 17000 = 8.5 per hour

Housing Cost as a pct of net inc.
@ 35% 583 monthly
@ 25% 417 monthly