The Coming Battle for Affordable Housing in Idaho
Affordable housing is a crisis in Idaho. The dramatic increase in rents and home prices over a period of five years has put the cost of housing out of reach for many. A fellow working in county government told me last year that he was aware a great many people were living in RVs parked in other people’s driveways. He told me if I knew anyone making those accommodations that he didn’t want me to share details. Otherwise, he would be obliged to turn the matter over to code enforcement.
As mortgage interest rates approach eight percent, it may slow housing price increases, however. It won’t end the housing shortage, the real culprit of runaway costs.
I’m a conservative and philosophically believe the government doesn’t belong in the housing market. But let me warn some of our elected politicians. Housing costs and property taxes are ripe for a political takeover by a populist or a demagogue. Someone running for office who’ll promise to control rents or put the government into the home building business (which would probably result in shoddy construction and overruns).
If I was a Republican member of the state legislature, I would be more fearful of the populist than the liberty wing of the party.
Canada’s leading conservative has abandoned party orthodoxy and is promoting government involvement in the homebuilding industry. It has vaulted his party ahead of the liberals. Can he deliver on the promise? Probably not, but he can deliver votes.
Here’s our current conundrum. Too few houses but inflation and rising interest rates are driving stagnation when it comes to building. It may be that way for a long time.
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