Smart Growth and Affordable Housing

There's a piece of rhetoric out there that smart growth policies increase housing costs, therefore driving working families out of urban areas to the exurban fringe. Daniel Goldberg of Smart Growth America responds with this post emphasizing that the real problem is that the principles of smart growth -- ensuring that "development makes efficient use of land and the roads, sewers, schools and other infrastructure we all pay for" -- have still only had minimal impact on suburban sprawl.

One chief culprit for the fringe exurban flight is that the immediate suburbs around the urban core often require "large lot sizes, big houses, design controls and other regulations that drive up the price of housing (these are emphatically in opposition to smart-growth principles.)" So "vast swaths of existing suburbs continue to resist changes that would offer a wider range of housing choices, and instead impose those barriers that drive up the cost."

Goldberg highlights the broad failure of policymakers to develop a real approach to affordable housing for our nation and his frustration that smart growth advocates are asked to solve this with some kind of silver bullet is justified. Although that frustration should be seen as an opportunity for smart growth advocates-- since it means there's is a large political space sitting there for a strong alliance of affordable housing advocates with smart growth advocates tied to changing the status quo of expensive suburban sprawl.

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