Massive Housing Programs and Massive Messes

public housing 2A recent interview on National Public Radio’s program Fresh Air discussed the federal government’s hand at segregating America’s suburbs during the 1930s through the 1950s. The Fair Housing Act of 1934 was established to facilitate financing and construction of housing, in response to what the federal government perceived as a “housing shortage.” Problem was the act aimed at providing housing for white families only. Vast tracks of suburban residential housing carried covenants that specified homes could be sold only to white families. We are all feeling the results of those misguided decisions to this day.

Government is populated by fallible people, just like any other group. When we allow or incentivize government to undertake massive endeavors, we might end up with massive unintended consequences.

Today the descriptive term has escalated to “housing crisis.” And again, especially in large metropolitan areas, there is massive government intervention in the form of central planning, subsidies, zoning, developer incentives, and a tsunami of new laws and financing proposals.

What will be the effects of the 2015 presidential executive order Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing or California’s Senate Bill 35, both mandating that every community build their “fair share” of housing at all levels of income – whether the community can afford it or not. But for these mandates to come true, they need financing, such as voter-approved housing bonds. Before we vote “yes,” let’s read the fine print.