Category Archives: Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing

Kitsap Housing Supply is in Crisis

“Housing Affordability” vs. “Affordable Housing”

It’s not about “affordable housing,’·
It’s about housing people can afford to buy.
There’s a big difference.
What brought on the French ‘revolution?

Today in Kitsap County, 1 in 15 families are struggling with poverty due to extreme property regulation.

Kitsap County Commissioners have advised us of our critical housing shortage (Click here)

  • There is a current shortfall of 9500 units to house 4524 families.
  • The housing shortage grows to 34,650 units in 16 years.
  • 515 housing units are currently being built in Kitsap County.
  • 1,480 new housing units per year are needed to satisfy current growth.
  • Without correction, the problem grows worse each year into the future.

Discretionary income allows freedom of choice and liberty. Home ownership is the bedrock of personal dignity. High taxes and excessive regulation destroy and undermine both freedom of choice and personal dignity. Housing is typically a family’s largest discretionary income cost. As we learned in “Economics 101”, supply and demand determine prices. Reducing the cost of housing allows discretionary income to be spent elsewhere, creating jobs and tax revenue.

Kitsap County’s median home price is now $408,590, 77% above HUD’s affordability standard of $236,710 for a median income family. We see State and Local regulations now adding well over 50% to home prices.

Home construction has been impeded by Washington State’s Growth Management Act‘s restrictive regulations over the past twenty five years, resulting in our current housing shortage. For every 100 family units formed. only 42 homes are being constructed. Considering 1/3 of our residents are renters, 11,000 new rental units must be constructed by 2036. This lack of housing supply is the cause of our home and rental prices being out of sight.

County and State leadership have failed to create solutions. There is no apparent plan to increase the rate of housing construction. There appear to be no numerical goals and no measures of progress.

City of Bremerton & Kitsap County Affordable Housing Recommendations report, ECONorthwest, Final Report, March, 2020 (the “ECONorthwest paper”) rightly states adverse impacts of housing regulation can be alleviated by eliminating housing options through zoning. In Kitsap County, zoning has for years prohibited affordable “Missing Middle Housing”:  duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments cottage clustersand accessory dwelling units.

Kitsap County’s rate of housing construction must be increased by at least a factor of five or housing will become even more unaffordable. For construction to accelerate, the marketplace must be allowed to function. Local government must become an incentivized partner in construction of market-rate affordable housing, not an adversary.

The Rucklehouse Report showed the lack of affordable housing is a common complaint in all 39 Washington State counties. Only by rapidly expanding the quantity of buildable lots and unburdening developers from restrictive and expensive regulation will housing prices be reduced to affordable levels.

Washington State home prices are currently 86% above Housing and Urban Development’s definition of affordability.

Kitsap Alliance is well aware of the impacts of Washington State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) and environmental activism on housing availability. We are also aware of County and city long-term foot-dragging in creation of new and affordable building sites and zealously imposing zoning impediments and limitations. The usual bureaucratic response is “The State made us do it.”

Read the Full Housing Affordability vs Affordable Housing report.

Strengthening property rights will improve affordable housing in America’s cities

 

Our nation is in the midst of a severe and ever-worsening housing crisis. For decades, we have seen far too few homes being built. And those homes that are built are often too expensive—particularly in major urban centers, where poor and middle-class families increasingly find themselves priced out of homes and apartments located near the best jobs, schools, and other opportunities. Indeed, a recent article from The Washington Post reports that “in recent years prices for the lowest-priced houses have grown consistently twice as fast as prices for the highest-priced houses and now exceed what many families of modest means can pay.”

This crisis largely finds its roots in unnecessarily restrictive zoning laws, such as exclusive large lot zoning, which creates an artificial shortage in buildable land by limiting what type of homes can be built and where they can be located. These zoning rules are often the most restrictive in the very communities that have the most pronounced need for new housing, like Los Angeles, where an “affordable” apartment can fetch up to $1 million.

Making matters worse, local governments often look at new development as an opportunity to raise funds for public projects like public housing, new parks, or infrastructure improvements. Thus, in areas like Seattle, the regulatory fees needed to secure a building permit are estimated to make up over half the purchase price of each new home. Although these fees are often justified as providing public benefits at no cost to the general public, they actually exacerbate the affordable housing crisis. In West Hollywood, for example, the city demanded that the owner of a proposed small 10-unit affordable apartment project pay over a half-million dollars in “affordable housing” fees, which drove up the cost of each unit. In order to make a profit in this circumstance, the owner, like many other developers, was compelled to abandon his focus on affordable units in favor of high-end residences that could cover the additional costs.

The solution to this problem is clear: we must free property owners and developers to build more homes—especially in those communities that have been marginalized by past zoning policies. When combined with rolling back unnecessary fees, such action will encourage the type of entrepreneurship that will result in new housing being developed at all price points. It’s a simple solution that is proven to work. Continue reading

Homeowners told permits for their home renovation will cost an extra $11,000, thanks to upzoning in Seattle

The city of Seattle has demanded that Erika Cherry and her husband, Andre, pay $11,000 to the city’s affordable housing fund because their home-renovation project was extensive enough to qualify as new construction.

The house was always going to need a little work.

An unpermitted second bedroom extending into the back alleyway “bounced” when entered, said Erika Cherry, who bought the 650-square-foot Seattle home with her husband, Andre, in late 2018. When the Cherrys demolished a wall, they found newspapers from 1916 — the year the house was built — in place of insulation. Six-foot-tall Andre could touch the low ceilings when he reached up.

But the Cherrys loved the Highland Park neighborhood, where they’d been renting since 2014. And at $325,000, the house was a steal. They filed what Erika Cherry thought were relatively modest plans to renovate the home with the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections in early 2019. They’d bring the addition up to code, enclose the front porch and raise the roof to make the attic livable, on a budget of less than $60,000.

“We were turning a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house,” said architect Greg Krueger.

The city didn’t see it that way. A reviewer said the renovation was substantial enough to qualify as new construction. According to rules passed in 2019, the Cherrys would need to pay $11,000 to the city’s low-income housing fund if they wanted their permit, in addition to the regular permitting fees. That’s more than the Cherrys — already spending $4,200 per month on rent and mortgage while permitting drags on — were willing to pay. Continue reading

Will the voters freeze new housing development in November?

If a poison causes a disease, the obvious cure has to be even more poison, right? To most of us, that prescription sounds insane—but it’s a fair description of California’s approach to addressing the disease that is the state’s affordable housing shortage. Because much of the existing shortage is caused by government interference with the housing market, the solution, some people reason, must be even more government meddling.

That certainly seems to be the theory behind the misleadingly titled “Rental Affordability Act” appearing on California’s November ballot. This latest misguided scheme, which would allow cities to enact rent control caps on most homes at least 15 years old, will only worsen the affordable housing crisis.

Why is affordable housing such a problem in California? There are a variety of reasons, including restrictive zoning laws, environmental restrictions and other regulatory burdens, punishing impact fees, and NIMBY opposition from other landowners.

But when it comes to building new apartments, one disincentive looms above all others: rent control. Rent control first arose in California in the 1970s in response to changing residential demographics. With a scarcity of affordable single-family homes, more Californians moved into apartments. That, in turn, led to a shortage of apartments. With the supply low and demand high, rents correspondingly rose. In response, liberal enclaves like Santa Monica and San Francisco imposed rent control schemes.

The impact on housing supplies was predictable: Builders feared losing money in rent-controlled jurisdictions, so they took their business and investment elsewhere.

In 1995, the legislature stepped in to limit the damage by passing the bi-partisan Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. That law prohibited cities from imposing rent control on single-family homes and condominiums. Most importantly, newly built apartment buildings would be free from rent control. Moreover, once an existing tenant vacated a rent-controlled apartment, the rent could be reset to match market conditions. While too many other restrictions remained in place to fully address the housing shortage, it did help. More new apartments were built once developers knew they’d be free from rent control.

Until now, that is. In 2018, a group of activists tried to use a ballot measure to toss Costa-Hawkins and allow rent control to be imposed throughout the state. Fortunately, that proposal lost overwhelmingly, with 62% of California voters rejecting the new rent control scheme.

Now the same activists are back with a slightly scaled-back version. Once again, they want to toss Costa-Hawkins and make rent control safe for ambitious politicians. If they get away with it this time, it will make California’s housing crisis much worse than it already is.

Economists are in near-universal agreement on rent control: In a 2012 survey of professional economists, 98% agreed that rent control doesn’t work. By making housing shortages worse, rent control forces prices higher. Any benefit to those living in rent-controlled apartments is more than offset by higher housing costs for everyone else. Even left-leaning economist Paul Krugman warns of the perils of rent control, calling it “predictable” that in a rent-controlled environment there will be “sky-high rents on uncontrolled apartments, because desperate renters have nowhere to go—and the absence of new apartment construction, despite those high rents, because landlords fear that controls will be extended.”

A recent study of San Francisco, where  older apartments are largely free from the effects of Costa-Hawkins, found that rent control failed to keep costs low, and instead resulted in a net loss of affordable housing units. Again, this was predictable: When prices of any good are forced below the market price, the demand for the price-controlled good increases, while the incentive to supply that good decreases. A shortage develops.

And the Rental Affordability Act, if passed in November, will have precisely the same effect. We’re all familiar with the old saying that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” There’s no better illustration of that principle than this latest effort to dress up failed rent control schemes as a solution to the affordable housing crisis. Here’s hoping voters get the message and reject this poisonous ballot initiative, so we can focus on solutions that will actually improve the situation, like changes to zoning laws and regulatory reform that will allow for more new construction.

Pacific Legal Foundation article July 09, 2020 By JAMES BURLING

 

 

WSJ: Seattle and the State Supreme Court Wage War on Property Rights

Landlords are forced to rent to the first person who walks in—even if he has a criminal record.

Affordable-housing shortages are an abiding challenge for cities around the nation. But often policies meant to alleviate the problem aggravate it instead. That’s certainly the case in Seattle, where the City Council imposed a pair of ordinances aimed at restricting property owners’ right to choose their tenants.

These misguided laws, recently upheld by the Washington Supreme Court, attempt to solve problems caused by the housing shortage by destroying property rights. Property owners in other cities should take note: Such reforms have a tendency to spread once they take root.

The two ordinances in question strip landlords of the right to decide who will occupy their property. Seattle’s “first in time” rule requires landlords to set rental criteria in advance and then rent to the first person who walks in the door with an adequate application. There are plenty of good reasons a landlord might prefer a different tenant, including socially beneficial ones such as a desire to help a struggling family.

The second law prohibits a landlord from inquiring about or considering an applicant’s criminal history—deemed an “unfair practice” that can subject the landlord to severe civil penalties. The federal government requires background checks for federally assisted housing, and for good reason: Criminal history bears directly on factors like reliability, creditworthiness and safety.

Both Seattle laws purport to reduce discrimination in housing and help beleaguered minorities, even though there’s no evidence that Seattle landlords engage in widespread discrimination. Taken together, these laws thrust landlords blindly into long-term lease relationships with renters they didn’t choose.

A small band of mom-and-pop landlords, represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, sued the city over both ordinances. Marilyn Yim owns a triplex in Seattle. She lives with her husband and children in one of the units and rents out the other two. She shares the yard and her home with her tenants, so she has understandable concerns about compatibility and safety. Plus, she’s occasionally had to help her tenants find roommates. She has always considered a criminal-background check an essential service she provides a tenant looking for a roommate, for obvious reasons that apparently elude the Seattle City Council.

Another plaintiff, Kelly Lyles, is a single woman and local artist whose income derives mostly from a small single-family home she inherited from a relative. She’s also a survivor of multiple sexual assaults and domestic violence. The City Council barreled onward with its first-in-time rule and the ban on criminal-background checks despite Ms. Lyles’s tearful plea.

These plaintiffs challenged both laws as violations of their property rights under well-established Washington state case law. Washington courts have recognized that if government regulation destroys a “fundamental attribute” of property ownership, the regulation amounts to an unconstitutional taking unless the government compensates the owner. And if a regulation of property is “unduly oppressive,” Washington courts have traditionally struck it down as a violation of due process. But in a remarkable pair of decisions issued Nov. 14, the state high court mowed down longstanding protections for property owners by overturning 61 of its own prior decisions. By clear-cutting decades of decisions protecting property owners from overregulation, the court forged a path for two of the most radical housing regulations in the nation.

Courts are usually cautious about overturning precedent. A court that goes out of its way to overturn 61 cases in a single go seems intent on making the point that no constitutional right is secure if it conflicts with the orthodoxy of the day. Now Washington property owners will have to turn to the notoriously labyrinthine and hostile world of federal takings law for relief, and the city government is free to oppress property owners so long as the oppression has a “rational basis.”

Landlords aren’t the only victims. Renters will suffer too. As owners like Ms. Yim and Ms. Lyles flee the housing market because they can’t bear the regulatory burden, the contraction in supply will further inflate rents. Remaining landlords will raise prices even more to underwrite the risks they face because they can’t adequately vet rental applicants.

Meanwhile, Seattle officials, emboldened by this win, will continue churning out false solutions that pander to their collectivist constituency, comfortable in the knowledge that longstanding constitutional protections aren’t the obstacles they once seemed.

But the fight isn’t over. Pacific Legal Foundation will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the first-in-time case and affirm that Seattle landowners do, in fact, have property rights protected by the Constitution. And the criminal background check case will now go to a federal district court, which may yet state the obvious: Property owners should have some say over who occupies their land. Until then, the state court’s decision means the housing crisis in Seattle will only grow more severe.

Pacific Legal Foundation article January 31, 2020 I By ETHAN BLEVINS

This op-ed was originally published by The Wall Street Journal on January 31, 2020.

RELATED CASES

Yim v. City of Seattle
May 01, 2018
RELATED ARTICLES

The Hill: Local governments are undermining state laws that encourage ‘granny flats’

It’s well known that California is in the midst of a housing crisis that grows more severe all the time. For decades, we have seen too few homes built, and those that are built are too expensive. The poor and middle class suffer the most from the housing shortage, increasingly finding themselves priced out of homes and apartments located near good jobs and schools.

This problem has been well documented, so there is no excuse when our cities refuse to allow individuals to take steps to alleviate the housing shortage. Yet communities across California continue to oppose the simplest of housing reforms: allowing property owners to build accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, commonly known as “granny flats” or “in-law apartments.”

As far back as 1981, the state legislature recognized that the lack of developable land is one of the key obstacles to increasing housing supply. There is land available to build on in California cities, but zoning codes strictly limit the use of undeveloped land. To open up more capacity, California adopted a statewide law that legalized the production of ADUs.

It was a win-win solution. By legalizing ADUs, the state unlocked previously unusable land, resulting in a massive increase of potential housing. Owners could build a rental unit to help with their mortgage payments, or build a cottage where their parents could age in place. Better yet, the cost of an ADU is typically a fraction of a stand-alone house or apartment unit, resulting in the potential for new affordable housing.

Many cities, however, continued to resist this modest reform, even as the housing shortage reached critical mass. So the state pushed back again in 2016 and 2019, amending the law to require — rather than request — that cities allow ADU development as a right of ownership. The state law directs California cities to approve ADU permits that satisfy certain conditions, such as unit and lot size, without the lengthy and costly process typical of building permits.

Communities that implemented this law, such as Los Angeles and San Diego, have seen a surge in the production of new affordable housing. But still, the state’s ADU mandate wasn’t enough to convince many cities to take the plunge into granny flats.

In San Marino, for example, Cordelia Donnelly applied for a permit to build an ADU above her detached garage. Although her proposal met all of the state requirements, city officials still rejected it because, under the city’s strict standards, Donnelly’s lot was too small, her proposed ADU was too big (the same footprint as the garage), and her garage was too close to the house.

Donnelly has petitioned San Marino’s decision to the California Supreme Court, arguing that the city cannot adopt standards that ban exactly what the state allows by right. The court’s decision about whether to take her case will have significant implications for meaningful housing reform.

San Marino’s situation highlights one of the root causes of the housing crisis: needlessly restrictive zoning laws result in fewer homes being built, with those that are built carrying higher price tags. The word “needlessly” is intentional. The only justification for the city’s strict ADU rules is to protect established neighborhoods from change that could result from building more affordable homes. It is a policy of exclusion.

The exclusionary character of single-family zoning can be seen clearly in Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. (1926), in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a zoning law that barred multi-family residences. The court concluded that apartments are a “parasite” because they “take advantage of the open spaces and attractive surroundings created by the residential character of the district.” Simply put, zoning excludes new people and opportunities from coming into the community. Such a policy has no place in modern society.

Donnelly’s case shows that reform often occurs at the fringes. While the ADU option will provide a limited number of homes for a limited number of people, their legalization has the potential to open the door to much broader reform that can spur housing production.

The state’s decision to streamline the permit approval process by recognizing a right to build ADUs on residential-zoned property has removed much of the cost, time and uncertainty that continues to drive up housing costs and rent. If California were to extend the same type of recognition to other types of homes, the state could potentially turn a modest reform into a housing revolution.

Pacific Legal Foundation article June 22, 2020 By BRIAN HODGES. This op-ed was originally published by The Hill on June 22, 2020.

RELATED CASES

Donnelly v. City of San Marino
May 19, 2020
RELATED ARTICLES

The Orange County Register: COVID-19 has exposed the extent of the affordable housing crisis. Here’s how to start fixing it.
May 12, 2020 I By BRIAN HODGES AND ANGELA ERICKSON

Restrictive housing policies put low-income city residents at risk during COVID-19
April 30, 2020 I By JAMES BURLING

The Government-Created Housing Shortage
April 07, 2020 I By LARRY SALZMAN

 

Restrictive housing policies put low-income city residents at risk during COVID-19

In the 19th century, epidemics and crowded tenement housing went hand in hand. Cholera, smallpox, and even the bubonic plague swept through America’s slum housing in numbers that make the COVID-19 epidemic seem like a case of the sniffles.

Unfortunately, today’s housing policies in many urban areas make low-income and minority city residents most at risk of catching infectious diseases. And as the COVID-19 pandemic’s tragic results in cities like New York have now made clear, housing and zoning reform is one of the best ways to protect many city residents.

As early as 1820, the link between overcrowded housing and health was established in official reports, according to A History of Housing in New York City, by Richard Plunz. He notes that one out of every 27 New Yorkers died in 1859, as a result of “urban killers” like cholera, smallpox, typhoid fever, malaria, yellow fever, and tuberculosis.

In 1890, an influential reformist book, How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis, chronicled tenement living with as much contempt for the bad housing as for the people who lived there. Riis described, block by block, the overcrowded, unsanitary housing, while criticizing the poor, ethnic residents as “content to live in a pig sty,” ignorant, lazy, thieves, beggars, tramps, drunkards, greedy, stupid, and so on.

Riis noted that the tenements were “hot-beds of the epidemics that carry death to rich and poor alike.” And that prejudiced outlook drove much of the urban housing reform movement: It was one thing for the “contemptible” classes to die in their slums but quite another for their diseases to spread to “respectable” Americans.

Housing reform throughout the 19th and 20th centuries had a common tactic: The best way to address the problem was by getting rid of the poor, and the best way to get rid of the poor was to get rid of their dwellings. Indeed, the primary reason conservative members of the Supreme Court voted to uphold one of the nation’s first zoning laws in 1926 was to prevent the spread of “apartment houses,” as the slum tenements were known, because they would become parasitic nuisances in otherwise-nice neighborhoods.

In more recent times, “urban redevelopment” and central-city highway construction had a particularly adverse impact on minority neighborhoods. Much poor and working-class urban housing was destroyed, but little was rebuilt.

But whether it was early reform efforts to punch windows in airless apartments, mandating air shafts, or setting minimum building standards, there were gradual improvements. These reforms, combined with economic growth and modern medicine, did much to relieve the urban overcrowding and disease so prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

That history makes today’s zoning and land use policies appear quite ironic. Instead of allowing people to create and move to lower-density housing if they so choose, today’s planners and politicians strive to pack more people into denser cities, serviced by crowded rail and bus systems. This is all necessary, we are told, to protect environmental habitat and save the climate.

Thus, urban growth lines have been drawn, outside of which—in some cities, such as Portland—it is nearly impossible to build. Urban economist Randal O’Toole has described this so-called “smart-growth” planning model as one that is not building for the American dream, but as the title of his book puts it, for the American Nightmare: How Government Undermines the Dream of Home Ownership.

But the irony on top of irony is that environmental and zoning restrictions have reduced new home and apartment construction in coastal regions to a fraction of what is needed to maintain existing population trends. As a result, existing housing has become outrageously expensive. Families once again are doubling up. Worse, our streets are filling with homeless encampments as bad as any of the slums of the 19th century.

And like those slums of yesteryear, the homeless camps are becoming beset by illness, through no fault of the people forced to live in them. Diseases once thought eradicated from America are back with a vengeance, as cases of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis and cholera surge among the homeless. Now, with COVID-19, some of the homeless are being sheltered in empty hotel rooms in order to protect the rest of us. But how long will this stop-gap altruism last?

And even aside from the homeless camps, dense urban living is far from ideal. With greater density comes greater crime, worse schools, and more opportunity for disease. With COVID-19, who wants to ride on a crowded train or bus, if given a choice? How many social-distancing urban dwellers cooped up in small and crowded apartments would not rather live elsewhere?

Don’t let the past be our future. Unless we free up the housing markets and let people build and buy the homes they want to build and buy, conditions in the urban core will only get worse. Instead of planning our way back into the 19th century, we should build into the 21st.

Pacific Legal Foundation Article April 30, 2020 I By JAMES BURLING

On Affordable Housing

Jurisdictions in Washington State and in particular Western Washington are beginning to realize that a serious problem is facing many communities, which is encapsulated in the question: “why am I unable to afford a house or apartment?” That simple question is not pondered by those who purchased houses 40-years ago or even in the early 1990s. No, it is the question on the minds of the Millennials and Gen X aged members of our population or generally any families who make less than $73,026. On a per capita basis the number is $35,908.These are 2017 numbers and reflect the whole of the county to include Bainbridge Island where the median household income is $116,845 per their housing study published in 2018.

In 1968 when the Fair Housing Act was updated from the earlier version adopted in  1964, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made an  assessment of how much families could afford to pay for housing. The framers of that legislation determined it should be no more than 30% of total household income. Any amount higher than that would create a “cost burdened” situation for those households. Meaning that if the individual or family had to spend more than that for housing there would not be enough money for other necessities such as light and heat, repairs and maintenance, food to feed the family, clothes or transportation.

This same act addressed also issues related to discrimination and how to provide for the very poor in our communities. Regarding the latter, The FHA-1968 set standards for Section 8 rent subsidies.

Leaving alone the issues of discrimination for the moment, what kind of house can the median household income family can afford? Starting with the $73,000 number and applying the 30% factor, there would be $21,900 per year or $1,825.00 per month  available for housing. Of course, any household that does not make $73,000 per year, such as would be true for individuals they are out of luck or they require subsidies.  For example, the single person making only $36,000 would have $10,800 per year or about $900 per month to spend on housing.

Read the full Letter Housing Affordable to All & Fair Housing Act of 1968

Conservatives are Nudging the Supreme Court to Dismantle Affordable Housing Policy

When it comes to conservatives and the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion and labor rights are often considered among their prime targets. Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the court last fall, though, opened the road for a host of other challenges for which conservatives have quietly been laying the groundwork for years. This month, the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative law firm based in California, made moves on one of those fronts, asking the Supreme Court to take up a case challenging the constitutionality of inclusionary zoning — a popular tool cities and states employ to increase affordable housing and promote residential integration.

Inclusionary zoning generally works by requiring real estate developers to reserve a certain number of units in new housing complexes for tenants who live on more modest incomes; some jurisdictions also allow developers to alternatively pay a fee so the city can construct more affordable housing elsewhere. Conservatives argue that the policy effectively violates a provision of the Fifth Amendment that says private property cannot be taken without just compensation. Continue reading

THE GROWING ASSAULT ON PRIVATE PROPERTY – ARE SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES “RACIST?”

One of the main indicators used by economists to measure the health of the nation’s economy is housing starts – the number of private homes being built around the nation. In 2018 housing starts fell in all four regions of the nation, representing the biggest drop since 2016.

While many economists point to issues such as higher material costs as a reason for the drop in housing starts, a much more ominous reason may be emerging. Across the nation, city councils and state legislatures are beginning to remove zoning protections for single-family neighborhoods, claiming they are racist discrimination designed to keep certain minorities out of such neighborhoods. In response to these charges some government officials are calling for the end of single-family homes in favor of multiple family apartments. Continue reading