Monday, June 20, 2011

There are days when it is hard to be a liberal

This afternoon I heard a woman say with a straight face that Santa Monica is committed to affordable housing.  This was after she bragged about the low density, high design standard, affordable housing that Santa Monica built.  What was the construction cost for the project?  More than $600,000 per unit--because each unit uses a lot of land, which is expensive in Santa Monica, and because of those "high design standards."

The median price of a house in Los Angeles County is about $300,000.    When a subsidized housing unit costs $600,000, the average person is implicitly paying a lucky family to live in a nicer than average house.  This is of course inefficient--it also undermines the consensus necessary to make sure everyone is housed adequately.

We do indeed have a huge problem in Southern California--many families do not have sufficient income to afford a reasonable unit in a location close to a job.  Building gold plated housing in Santa Monica does not help solve the problem.

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