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Housing:  What’s Next

I'm here at the Furman Center at NYU at a quickly organized meeting on America's Housing Policy.  The first panel is on Connecting the Dots between Housing, Transportation, Energy and the Environment.  Ed Glaeser (Harvard) is up first.  (I am always surprised how young Ed looks.)

Ed says housing policy has encouraged people to move away from density and leverage themselves to the hilt for housing and has left us with a mess. 

He opens with a discussion of where development is "greenest," based entirely on housing and transportation emissions.  He finds that temperate climates requiring little heating and cooling are the most efficient places to build.

Public policy is making things worse, not better, because it encourages us to buy and build big energy-emitting housing, thanks to the mortgage interest deduction.

When we subsidize home ownership, we subsidize single family detached houses.  85% of multi family units are rental; 85% of single family homes are owner-occupied.

Environmental impact reviews take into account only the benefits of building but not the benefits of not building.  They should do both, in Ed's opinion.

Local policy (how easy it is to build in a place where building should occur and whether affordable housing can occur there) has huge impacts for the nation.  Some responsibility for policy, Ed suggests, needs to be removed from local control.

 

 

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