Three Possible Remedies for the Housing Crisis

With a shortage of housing, people are spending 30 percent or more of their income on that commodity. Still, there is not enough space for all those who desire urban housing, and rents keep rising.

How can cities address the crisis? A blog in US New and World Report cites three solutions for aligning supply and demand.

First of all, more construction is needed. Cities should consider selling more new development rights. Otherwise, both developers and residents are trying to outbid each other for the few spaces available, and they could be forced to go elsewhere to meet their needs.

Better transit is important to the urban structure. Cities should sell development rights along major transit corridors. Proceeds may contribute to the transit authority’s general fund, and everybody wins when people can easily commute to work and cities stay clean.

Legalization of “micro-units” – smaller, one room units appealing to those individuals drawn to urban areas (single, young professionals) -- would free up multi-room units by removing several families of one from a unit suitable for families of three or more. The micro-units may also be less expensive than traditional units, making housing in urban spaces more affordable.

All of these changes will require cities to rezone certain areas and/or make edits to their general plans. The rezoning will allow for greater density, taller buildings, and additional transportation.  Taken together, they will allow for affordable housing and managed growth of urban centers.

Written by Nicole Miller, a Research Assistant at RSG.