Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: A (not so) radical idea for housing

Jan 19, 2011


Housing has caused a lot of headaches in the past few years. After being the cause of the massive boom and bust housing has taken a beating – so much so that federal officials are looking into how to “protect” housing from a repeat of the recent market collapse. What was for a long time referred to as part of the American dream turned into an American nightmare for a lot of folks. It didn’t have to be that way and it doesn’t have to in the future.

As we have previously discussed here at The Yardstick an evolution in American housing is underway. Much of the housing that drove the boom consisted of large-lot single-family homes far from transportation options and activity centers. Translation: people had to do a lot of driving – for everything – and spend a lot of money on fuel and auto upkeep. Many of these houses are now in foreclosure and/or vacancy with ghost towns appearing in formerly hot markets.

On the other hand according to a new report Growing Wealthier housing and development located in activity centers and near transit has seen a remarkable rise in value even in traditionally auto-dominated areas like Texas and Florida. (For you public officials from cash-strapped localities out there this means a rise in revenues as well.)

Compact mixed-use urban development is not radical. It’s a return to the traditional model upon which many of our cities were originally built. It’s more environmentally sustainable and can reduce the stress and lost time that result from long congested commutes. Building more affordable housing in activity centers is a primary target of RF which includes a target of 80 percent of new or preserved affordable housing being located in activity centers by 2012.

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