To grow the economy, we need to build more housing

If we want to make sure all working families in our state thrive, we need economic growth. Economic prosperity is the best way we know to generate economic opportunity. If we care about social justice, we must find ways to generate this growth and ensure that it benefits everyone, not a privileged few.

Much has been said, in recent years, about our state’s disappointing economic performance over the past few decades. According to a recent report from CT Voices for Children, since the Great Recession of 2008, our state has lagged behind the national employment growth by 14.4%. Although the recovery from the pandemic has been less disappointing (we are only 3.1% behind). Until now), we are still significantly behind the country. The figures for personal income and GDP growth are similarly dismal. Although our state is still Unbelievably We are rich, we are backward.

The usual narrative, when faced with these numbers, is that Connecticut has struggled to create jobs for its residents. But our unemployment rate is roughly in line with the national average, and wage growth for low- and middle-income workers has been higher than the national average and faster than inflation. we Owns Jobs, jobs that pay well. The problem is that we don’t add Adequate workers to achieve meaningful economic growth.

It all starts, like most things that go wrong in our state, with housing: so do we no Build enough. Connecticut ranks 49th in the nation for new housing starts, and we were Amazingly Behind national trends in anything close to adequate affordable housing, such as the construction of multifamily buildings. This has the very predictable consequence of not being able to see any Population growth in our state for years. An economy that does not add new workers will do so no Creating new jobs. Without new jobs, it will be largely impossible for companies to expand and grow the economy. we Stagnant Economy on purpose, just by refusing to build places for additional workers to live.

Housing is a strange market. While demand for housing depends on location, job opportunities, quality of life, schools, weather, and the usual list of factors your local realtor lists, supply is high. tightly Controlled and regulated by local governments. The amount of new housing produced by Connecticut in any given year is determined solely by local planners and zoning boards. no market. Municipalities decide, through zoning, how much housing we can build and where. to ContractsThey’ve mostly decided no To build anything, leaving our economy chronically short of new workers.

constant shortage of supply, especially On multifamily housing, it has predictably pushed up prices and made housing increasingly unaffordable. Connecticut is beloved A place to rent or own a home. Rent vacancy rates are among the lowest in the country, so landlords are perfectly happy to charge abusive rents and evict tenants, knowing full well that they have an endless supply of desperate families struggling to find a place to stay. As a result, those wonderfully high wages and high incomes that Connecticut has compared to the rest of the country mostly end up in the pockets of landlords (“the privileged few”), not the workers who earn them.

We have a fairly easy way out of this problem, politically speaking, and we know it works: build more housing. Outside of Connecticut, the United States has seen a huge boom in multifamily construction in the years following the pandemic. The increase in housing supply has led to… big Slowdown in rent increases, leading to potential decreases Next year. This may be bad news if you’re an owner or developer, but it’s really good news if you’re a worker living paycheck to paycheck.

It is also worth noting that these changes are not related to the type of multifamily housing. New “luxury apartments” may be expensive, but the additional supply of luxury apartments is bringing down the prices of older, less luxurious housing. The best way to keep your landlord honest is to get… option Where to live instead of landlords being able to choose which tenants they prefer.

Keep in mind that planning and zoning have impacts beyond housing costs. They are also major drivers of residential segregation, educational disparities, wealth inequality, traffic congestion, carbon emissions, and a very long list of other negative economic impacts that go beyond affordability and growth. All of these, however, for another article.

Local primaries are taking place in Connecticut today; We have municipal elections coming up in November. All those dormant seats on zoning boards and the Planning Commission will be up for election, as well as other local offices that don’t really go unnoticed and that have a major role in housing and zoning policy.

For decades, we have allowed these local entities to severely restrict the supply of housing in our state, for spurious and irrational reasons (traffic! wetlands! noise! ​​city character!), which often mask an undercurrent of classism and racism. When we go to the polls next November, we should keep all this in mind.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *