Income stagnation is a big factor in housing crisis

30 Oct 2018

It just isn’t that complicated.

Housing costs more than it used to for most of us, and our incomes haven’t kept up.

That’s the full explanation of what’s meant by the term affordable housing crisis.

Maybe this seems obvious to you. But through a summer of interviews and research on our housing problem, I was struck by how little I heard about stagnant incomes for a big slice of the population. Instead, people complained about things like single-family housing regulations, construction costs or zoning policies.

To be sure, more can be done to change regulations and lower the cost of building. But without a more basic understanding of the broader economics, it will be hard for political leaders to rally support for “affordable housing” policies. It is simply too easy to think of these policies as helping low-income families make the rent. An opinion page colleague last week also made a similar point.

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