There I was reading the paper and I braced myself for another “solution” to the housing crisis. As I predicted just several months ago, there are numerous calls for government intervention to fix the affordable housing crisis. Most of these solutions consist of more subsidies and even price controls that will do little to address the fundamental problem and relatively easy solution. They will instead make the problem tougher.
But I was reading the piece in question and actually found a refreshing amount of frank discussion and practical solutions. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson correctly pointed out that zoning and building ordinances restrict the supply of available housing and increases the cost. His solution is to loosen those restrictions. This would make it easier to build housing that people can buy on their own without government mandates, interference, or subsidies. Mostly important, this will address the fundamental problem of the housing market which is the government artificially restricting supply while demand keeps increasing. In short, he promised to put the “free” back in free market, which would let supply, demand, and the choices of consumers and businessmen trying to cater to them, dictate the prices of the market.
I found this a rare bit of sanity in the midst of all sorts of crazy and ridiculous policy proposals ranging from the Green New Deal to reparations. For his efforts Ben Carson is predictably being bashed for all sorts of items such as his office spending, program changes for tenants of Section 8 housing, and comments about slavery. Yet he continues to be an effective advocate of sensible government policies. And I imagine that is at least part of the reason he is so disliked. Regardless of how much he is liked, free market reforms address the root causes of unaffordable housing.