The Affordable Housing Crisis Intensifies

The Washington Post

has published an interactive graphic showing how much rents have increased across the United States over the past year. Average rents in Virginia increased most rapidly in Hampton Roads, the Richmond metro, and the Fredericksburg area — up 20.4% in Spotsylvania County and 20.2% in Bedford County outside Lynchburg. Among localities that provided data, rents declined in only one county: Wise County.

Housing affordability has been a long-festering issue in Virginia. With the cost of housing skyrocketing over the past year, it is rapidly becoming a social crisis. Poor households are being displaced, forced to double up with family and friends. The poor are (rightfully) blamed for many problems of their own making, but unaffordable housing is not one of them. That is the outcome of temporary, COVID-related market forces and decades of anti-development housing policy in Virginia.

The Youngkin administration needs to get ahead of the curve on this issue with market-based policies to promote new housing construction. Otherwise, you can be sure that Democrats will come up with policies of their own that, if initiatives in other states are any indication, require government subsidies, interventions in the housing market, and short-sighted panaceas like rent control that will make matters worse.


Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


17 responses to “The Affordable Housing Crisis Intensifies”

  1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “The poor are (rightfully) blamed for many problems of their own making…”

    Can’t have a BR piece without a condescending poke at the disadvantaged among us now can we…

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      and over in the cell phone in schools article: ” In your observation, is the disrespect and defiance of adult authority in low-income schools getting worse?”

      It’s a theme.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Reality is reality. I know you’d like to sweep things under the rug but those things exist nonetheless.

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        It is not about the existence of the poor, it is the condescending laying of blame by Conservatives… that is indeed reality though, so good point…

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    DANG! The paper that is, on most days, the worst abomination known to mankind… is today, TODAY, a font of true and reliable facts upon which Conservatives and Youngkin should rely to respond to this claimed crisis! (maybe a one-time deal?)

    How do we really know this is not some made-up thing by leftists – again?


    And that “free market’ Conservatives are always saying is better than the “govinment” trying to “help”.

    Youngkin should ‘encourage” Miyares (though probably no need) to “investigate’ NoVa for their well-known restrictive housing policies that are making housing unaffordable.


    Remember how well Conservatives were able to replace and repeal health care? solider on!

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      “Average rents increased most rapidly in Hampton Roads, the Richmond metro, and the Fredericksburg area — up 20.4% in Spotsylvania County and 20.2% in Bedford County outside Lynchburg.”

      Sounds like the people in Fredricksburg are electing politicians who don’t know what they are doing.

      You should run for county board of supervisors, Larry.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        DJ – I thought this was supposed to be a free-market thing. supply/demand? Do you expect govt to take care of this?

        Hey, we have Conservatives running the BOS and they say this is a free-market thing not their thing.

        You can choose to be an intelligent and principled Conservative you know, not the current rage!


        Do you really think government is the right choice to deal with the supply/demand of housing?

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          Government, with its zoning laws, created the problem. Given that, only government can fix the mess it made.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Don’t have that problem in 3rd world countries and instead of more affordable housing, they have slums.

            Seems a nebulous argument without any real specifics.

            Govt has to do water/sewer. Without it, most land in urban areas cannot be developed. Ditto with roads. Without roads and sewer, development is harder and more expensive.

  3. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    “Market-based policies to promote new housing construction”. That is your consistent remedy. However, the Richmond area has been bustling with the construction of new housing, both for rent and sale. Before COVID, apartment buildings were springing up all over the Shockoe valley area. During the last five years, Scott’s Addition has boomed, with lots of new apartments and more are planned. Along Wistar Rd., condominiums have blossomed. New housing is going up in Short Pump. I don’t know what other market-based policies are needed.

    And I cannot believe the prices and rents on these units. I don’t know how middle class folks can afford them, not to mention the poor.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      In Fredericksburg, apartments are going up all over the place. They are not cheap.

      So two different issues. Govt policies are NOT preventing construction – the market is demanding more apartments.

      The second problem – price – are govt policies making it more expensive to build – ‘affordable” apartments?

      That’s a tougher argument IMHO.

      If we actually had some specific examples, maybe.

      In our case, our wastewater treatment plant has to be upgraded, 60 million dollars worth and local govt has approved it – without that expansion – dense development like apartments would be for more difficult.

      Although only those who use water/sewer pay for it, taxpayers do not, the money is borrowed and the cost of it is based on the credit rating of the county.

    2. No one’s say there is NO housing construction activity in the Richmond area, there’s just not enough new construction to keep up with population growth.

      You suggest that the problem is that homebuilders are building units that middle-class folks cannot afford. Why is that? Did homebuilders once-upon-a-time build housing affordable to the masses? Yes, of course they did. Why do they no longer do so? Have they abandoned a mass market for no reason at all? Or have zoning codes and other regs made it prohibitively expensive to build lower- and middle-income housing? Ask yourself, why does it cost non-profit housing authorities $450,000 per unit to build “affordable” housing?

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        As for your latter question, I ask myself that frequently. I haven’t gotten an answer.

        What specific zoning codes or other regs make it “prohibitively expensive to build lower- and middle-income housing”?

        I suspect that the pricing for a lot of the housing units being built for young middle-class professionals, such as those in Shockoe and Scott’s Addition, is padded because the developers know that folks will pay it. And that’s OK. If people are willing to pay $1,500 to $2,000 per month rent for an apartment in Scott’s Addition that has less than 1,000 sq. ft, but is in a trendy area and has access to a salt water pool, I don’t blame the owners for charging it.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        I don’t think builders are building apartments that are too high for the market and will not rent.

        Is it really true that they “used” to build enough affordable housing? I seriously doubt that. What they built was ‘projects” that were horrible in a number of ways and are no longer built – for good reason.

        but bottom line, why is it the responsibility of govt to insure that ANYTHING in the market is ‘affordable” in the first place.

        how does someone who says they prefer the free market over govt price controls justify that view?

        what exactly would you have govt to do to ‘fix” the $450K per problem if they put those things out for bid to start with?

        It just seems incongruous for someone who claims to be a free-market libertarian to advocate that govt insure “affordable” and then at the same time say that would prevent the
        govt from doing bad stuff like entitlements.


        Beyond that, let’s assume that it’s possible. Can any cities or towns be named that have affordable housing and it’s due to specific policies they have to make that happen?

  4. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar

    Affordable housing is also a big and growing problem in the Triangle. At least in the Wake Forest and Rolesville areas, construction is going crazy. But, just like everywhere else, supply chain and inflation problems are here too.

    Does zoning and development-related requirements increase the cost of housing? Sure. then move to Houston. But even there, there are considerable development-restricting covenants that are effectively zoning equivalents.

    And what happens to everyone’s quality of life if the basic public facilities are absent? And adding population requires more government services, higher taxes (does anyone think affordable housing pays its way in property taxes) and, ultimately, even higher housing prices.

    Another problem is government idiots. In my hometown of St. Paul, MN, the city council enacted rent control and are now beside itself because apartment construction has crashed. Even crazy elected officials cannot overturn the laws of economics and physics.

    And, of course, the ability to hire workers not authorized to work in the United States pushes down wages for the least-educated and least-skilled American workers so that they have less income for housing and everything else.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    I would presume that most Conservatives would be unalterably opposed to the govt deciding the price of gasoline, food, shelter, … anything? drugs, health insurance, etc?

    But if they think the govt can and does set policies that can affect supply/demand, that, then those policies are in play.

    The complaint most heard is that they don’t provide “enough” less restrictive zoning and that if they did more ‘affordable’ housing would be built.

    It’s an arguable point. Developers routinely ask and get re-zonings to allow more density and often are granted unless there is opposition.

    we have discussions about ALEC providing model ordinances. Do they do so for zoning and affordable housing?

  6. HousingIsHope Avatar

    Can anyone point to a single affordable housing model that doesn’t demand some type of financial intervention?

    Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Bonus Densities, Public and/or Private Philanthropic Contributions….

    Otherwise the market will build to highest & best use, maximizing both price & number of units. And in very few situations do you see the increase in new housing stock provide any price relief from older/aging housing stock. Especially when Virginia is short 200,000 units of affordable housing across the state.

Leave a Reply