Why Can't We Build an Affordable House?
One explanation of America’s housing market collapse is that too many people bought too much house. The solution: build more affordable houses. Here’s what stands in the way.
The housing market is in tatters, and house prices continue to fall precipitously in many parts of the country, so it might seem a strange time to bring up the subject of housing affordability. But one of the reasons we are in this mess is that people bought houses they couldn’t really afford. At some point in the future, consumer confidence will be restored and people will start buying houses again. Pent-up demand, and the inevitable delays in restarting an industry that has seen the withdrawal of many home builders, will likely produce a spike in prices, and once again the affordability issue will come to the fore.
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Witold Rybczynski is Martin and Margie Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. His latest book, Last Harvest: From Cornfield to New Town, appeared in paperback this spring.more from this author >>