Zoning, Rent Control and Affordable Housing

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The so-called housing problem is not national; it is local. Municipalities practice exclusionary zoning that prevents cheap, multifamily housing from being built. Municipalities initiate strict building-code enforcement campaigns that often result in the closing of single-room-occupancy hotels and other cheap housing in inner cities. And municipalities impose rent control — the surest way to produce a housing crisis.

William Tucker examines the history of such municipal actions in several California communities and concludes that zoning and rent control restrict the supply of affordable housing. In cities with rent control there is an ongoing war between landlords and tenants; lawyer-tenants exploit blue-collar landlords through tricky legal procedures, and landlords torch their unprofitable, unsalable buildings. Rent control and zoning are products of the tyranny of the majority that prevent people from exercising their right to buy and sell in a free market.

Zoning, Rent Control and Affordable Housing is a must read for anyone worried about making affordable housing available to all Americans.