News and Commentary
Christian Britschgi writes in Reason about a new bill introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. The bill would cancel all rent and mortgage payments until a month after the end of the president’s declared national emergency, while relief funds to landlords would be contingent on not raising rent for five years among other conditions. But rent control deters development by distorting price signals and thus makes it harder for housing scarcity to be addressed. The rest of the bill as described by Britschgi doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Covid-19 has led to a lot of discussion about density. Joe Cortright writes in City Observatory about what this crisis means for the future of the American city. While some point to slowing growth as a sign that Americans don’t want to live in cities, the prices say otherwise. Density isn’t so much the key factor for Covid-19 outbreaks as state capacity. Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Geinas writes in Citylab about this same issue, pointing to public-health intelligence networks as a solution not unlike NYPD officers after 9/11.
Greater Greater Washington provides a neat overview of what different levels of people per square mile look like in a new article using Google maps imagery.
A new apartment in Norwalk, California is receiving greater flexibility with the city’s zoning code in exchange for providing six low-income units. While it’s good to see a single-family lot is being upgraded in density, the city of Norwalk could go even further and reduce requirements for open space, landscaping, street distance, and height.
Covid-19 will likely disrupt real estate development, reports Vandana Ramnani for Moneycontrol News in India. No matter where you look in the world, it appears liquidity issues for developers can be best addressed by having stable completion times for projects. Cutting unnecessary zoning codes can go a long way to that end.
Researchers at the University of Western Ontario conducted interviews of residents who used a pay-for-stay private unit from the Salvation Army Centre of Hope in London. They find from these interviews that residents having access to their own private room provided safety, privacy, and helped transition to stable housing.
Bradley Tusk suggests at Techcrunch that the Covid-19 crisis could provide a unique opportunity for startups that create jobs and provide services. Local governments will have to think twice about regulations that impose costs on firms or developers; clearly the time for scaling up housing development and slashing pesky zoning codes is now.
A whitepaper by Dan Emmanuel of NLIHC looks at the shortage of affordable rental housing in the United States. He points out that low-income households are in dire need of affordable housing and high rental costs impose many additional burdens on this population.