Nathan Newman has a great post on why progressives ought to think more about housing policy. Indeed, it’s hard to think of topics more boring than anti-height restrictions and rent control, but those things do after all affect the biggest single chunk of many families’ budgets. Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have more or less signed on to the Republican fixation with promoting homeownership among low-income families, even though these policies can often saddle young families with more debt than they can handle, while leaving tens of millions of renters behind.
Nor does this have to be, strictly speaking, an urban issue or a low-income issue. In the New York Times Magazine last weekend, there was a long piece about new exurban megachurches, which was interesting in its own right, that had a small aside noting that most people move out into Republican-friendly exurbs like Surprise, AZ, simply to find affordable housing. Now it’s long been true that the GOP has found reliable support among these young, mostly-white married couples looking to move up into the middle-classes. And sure, many of these families, of course, will always and forever endorse the Republican approach housing policy, which relies heavily on making loans readily available to prospective homeowners. But it’s also reasonable to think that a good number of these exurban families might never even leave the cities or suburbs if they could find affordable housing there. So it’s not out of hand to think that the Democrats can make some inroads in this demographic with a smarter, more progressive housing agenda.