A Shelterforce Roundtable on Regulation and Housing Supply: Where the Left and Right Agree (Sort Of)

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Last year, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—a right-leaning libertarian think-tank—issued a report on how to encourage more development of affordable housing. One of the paper’s authors is a longtime Shelterforce reader, and he forwarded the report to us with a note that started: “While you probably are not a fan of the American Enterprise Institute, I expect you’ll find this paper interesting.” He was right on both counts.

The question of regulation and permitting of development is one that crosses usual political lines. In the current political climate, we should be very clear that regulation is not inherently bad, and many regulations have been responsible for our country having breathable air, drinkable water (in some places), and basic levels of safety and equal opportunity. But regulation is also not inherently good—Shelterforce readers are well aware of the effects of redlining and exclusionary zoning, for example.

We gathered some people who have done a lot of thinking and studying of these issues (including Charles Wilkins, the co-author of the aforementioned report) to discuss what it might look like to actually remove obstacles that get in the way of developing less expensive housing options responsibly. What’s possible? What are the trade-offs?

Joining us were Ingrid Gould Ellen of the Furman Center at New York University; Jamaal Green of Portland State University; Rosanne Haggerty of Community Solutions; Rick Jacobus of Street Level Advisors; Greg Maher of the Leviticus Alternative Fund; Alan Mallach of the Center for Community Progress and a National Housing Institute senior fellow; and Charles Wilkins, a consultant and co-author of the AEI paper.