Wealthy liberal neighborhoods exacerbate housing shortage

by Zain Jaffer

There’s an interesting 2022 NYT Opinion video by Johnny Harris [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNDgcjVGHIw] that argues that wealthy liberal neighborhoods are actually exacerbating the housing crisis in certain areas. While it was made some time back, the issue tackled remain unchanged.

As you probably know, a lot of the major West and East Coast cities, as well other major metropolitan areas often vote liberal. They often advocate for many progressive leaning issues, and that includes affordable housing.

It is one thing not to prioritize affordable housing as an issue, but it is another to publicly advocate it but actually undermine it. This was one of the findings of the NYT oped video which also tackled other topics like education.

Several issues were discussed. One issue in particular were older suburban neighborhoods with single family housing. Since some of these houses were bought and constructed decades ago, their cuts are relatively huge compared to today’s typical standards.

The NYT oped video said affluent cities and towns like Palo Alto in Silicon Valley are an example of how neighborhoods practice a Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) type of thinking when it comes to affordable housing. Since houses in this area have large land area cuts and cost in the millions, their residents often band together to defeat rezoning attempts to build multifamily building complexes that can house the families who work in the different companies around the area.

Take note that these same residents (not all) may be active in protest marches or efforts for cities to spend or encourage affordable housing. Just not in their neighborhoods.

Unfortunately with the increased population in the Bay Area from decades ago, of course the density has increased. By keeping property prices artificially high, this forces many workers to seek housing elsewhere, which can be a significant distance from their place of work.

While it is understandable for older residents to harken back to the older days, unfortunately their cities and towns have more people now who demand affordable housing. Keeping these large single family districts untouched to disallow more affordable multifamily housing does not really fit the goals that they publicly articulate.

There’s no problem with advocating for affordable housing publicly. The problem is if you just want it elsewhere, and not in your neighborhood.