by James A. Bacon
Planners in the Washington metropolitan area are worried, as they well should be, that continued population growth coupled with housing shortages could turn the region into another unaffordable hellhole like San Francisco or Los Angeles where legions of homeless people are taking over the public spaces and making life miserable for everyone. The solution, says the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), is to build more housing.
“You can’t afford to live in San Francisco — the workforce [there] is being displaced,” said COG Vice Chair Derrick Leon Davis, from Prince George County, Md. “We don’t want to be that region.”
Davis is absolutely right about that. Unfortunately, the solutions proffered by the regional planning organization aren’t practicable. COG says the region needs to add 320,000 housing units between 2020 and 2030, 75,000 more than previously forecast. Of those, reports the Washington Post, at least three-quarters should be “affordable to low- and middle-income households.” That, in turn, likely requires increasing public subsidies such as rental vouchers and low-cost loans or redirecting funds from schools, transportation or other priorities.
In other words, COG planners have set a goal and then established preconditions that make fulfillment of that goal politically and fiscally impossible. Continue reading