Policy

The Silver Lining in Biden's Massive Housing Plan

A Democratic White House and a Republican Senate might be the best of all worlds when it comes to federal housing policy.

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A Democratic White House and a Republican Senate might be the best of all worlds when it comes to federal housing policy. We can expect the return of heavy-handed regulations under Joe Biden's presidency, but his worst, most expensive ideas involving increased federal funding likely won't make it through Congress. Meanwhile, the president-elect could lend crucial support to efforts to nudge local and state governments into zoning deregulation.

On the spending side, Biden has pledged to plow $640 billion over 10 years into new and existing housing programs, including a new $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to finance low-income housing and energy-efficient upgrades. Biden also wants to fully fund the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program so that all renters who qualify for it receive a voucher, and he wants to devote $10 billion each to the existing Community Development Block Grant and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs.

Very little of that is good from a libertarian perspective. Luckily, none of it is likely to happen so long as Republicans control the Senate.

Biden is promising to revive an Obama-era rule, gutted by President Donald Trump, requiring jurisdictions that receive federal housing money to collect reams of demographic data, to identify supposed obstacles to fair housing, and then to craft plans to eliminate those obstacles. Biden also would bring back the "disparate impact" rule, which makes it easier to sue banks and other financial institutions for discriminatory housing policies. All of this can be done without congressional approval.

While that kind of bureaucratic make-work is troubling, Biden has also endorsed a more promising policy: making federal housing and transportation block grants conditional on loosening state and local zoning laws to allow denser development. That could be an effective nudge for the most tightly regulated, most expensive communities to get rid of the rules, including parking-spot quotas and lengthy permitting processes, that stymie the construction of new housing.

The Trump administration proposed a more modest version of the same policy but scrapped it in favor of an anti-development "save the suburbs" message in the run-up to the election. Bipartisan bills in Congress have proposed a similar approach. One, the YIMBY Act, passed the House in March, but has since languished in Senate committees.

Biden's eager endorsement of that kind of approach could help get the YIMBY Act and other related bills over the finish line, however. All considered, things could definitely be worse.

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  1. The only good government housing plan is NO government housing plan.

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  3. A fascist white house. Ftfy

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  4. LOL! You didn’t even bother correcting the online version, or considering the possibility the Democrats might end up with the Senate.

    That’s pretty sad.

    1. I wonder if they’d have guessed the Dems would win the senate if they’d have shilled so hard against Trump to win the Presidency? Probably not because TDS is a bitch.

      1. Should say probably.

      2. My thoughts exactly as I read the sentence.
        “Luckily, none of it is likely to happen so long as Republicans control the Senate.”

    2. They are either lazy fuckers or want to enjoy our reactions (or both).

    3. Oh Hell, they also didn’t do anything that might have helped ensure the R’s held the Senate.

      Like writing any articles about the two hard left Democrat candidates in the Georgia runoffs.

    4. There are varying levels of dishonesty about which party “controls the senate”. This author suggesting the Republicans do probably is just shitty writing/editing. But consider:

      100 senate seats
      50 Republicans
      48 Democrats
      2 Independents

      Of course the two independents loyally vote with the Dems (Bernie and some guy from Maine). The mainstream is falling over themselves to proclaim the senate controlled by the Dems, but in their zeal to be good servants of the ruling party, their really telling a half truth.

      Kamala tie breaking every vote that comes up is not how it’s going to roll. Watch for major Rino defections (Murkowski) and hopefully some surprises from a few democrats as well. Exciting times ahead in the Senate.

  5. Replacing local zoning laws with federal zoning laws doesn’t sound like a good trade-off to me, and you know that’s what this is. Biden isn’t pushing this “Housing Freedom of Choice and Flying Unicorns For All” shit because he favors less government control in housing markets, he just favors himself being the one in control.

    1. Yes, their one “good point” is decreased federalism, more top down control. There’s nothing good about zoning for libertarians, but local zoning is better than federal zoning.

    2. The Green New Deal won’t work if Americans insist upon living in wide open spaces. We have to corral everyone into urban centers, so we can force bullshit energy policies down their throats.

      1. ^Exactly This^! According to the climate cult, we must all abandoned our cars and move to high rise tenements. Don’t worry though, you will get to share free bikes should you choose not to take mass transit, and if you are a senior party member in good standing, you may be considered for car privileges.

        1. Just looked up starting salaries for “city planners”. With benefits it’s looking like a taxpayer funded dead wood government job that pays 6 figures. And here we all thought teachers unions were the leaders.

          Worthless government retards

      2. and transit. you forgot transit. trains work better when everyone lives close together.

  6. making federal housing and transportation block grants conditional on loosening state and local zoning laws to allow denser development.

    So spend federal money to force federal zoning regulations to override local regulations…

    1. Exactly, but you’re missing half the equation. See, the Democrats have a problem with city voters because there’s effectively no difference between 51% of the city dwellers voting Democrat and 90% of the city dwellers voting Democrat. There are an excess of Democratic voters in cities and an excess of Republican voters in the suburbs. So you need to make the suburbs more urbanized but at the same time, urban dwellers are urban dwellers because they like living in the cities. How are you going to entice city dwellers to move out to the suburbs? That’s where “housing equity” or some such shit comes in, you start offering free housing in the suburbs, you effectively pay city dwellers to move to the suburbs. Of course, that’s not how the program will be sold, but that will be how it effectively operates. First, you pass zoning laws that urbanize the suburbs, next will be paying Democratic voters to move from the cities to the suburbs. Wait and see if that’s not Step 2 of the program.

      1. The goal of Democrats housing policy is the same goal as their immigration policy. But no no, they’re not just trying to create a one party State.

      2. It’s like bussing, except instead of moving students to control racial distribution, they move public housing to control voting distribution.

        1. So, follow one success with another?

      3. Plus you can distribute the antifa cells easier that way.

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  8. “Very little of that is good from a libertarian perspective. Luckily, none of it is likely to happen so long as Republicans control the Senate.”

    Ummm…. Who wants to tell Britches?

    1. What difference, at this point, does it make?

    2. Reason’s gamble was to let an open authoritarian who put all his policies online for everyone to see to win the presidency but hope Trump could keep down ballot control for the Senate.

      What a stupid gamble.

      1. “Of course the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

  9. I’m looking forward to all the Brutalist architectural ghettos and slums.

    1. As someone who did post graduate work in Urban and Regional Planning one of my favorite theorems was ‘No city ever planned for slums, yet every city has them’.

      1. Is there an analogous version for government? Something like “No socialist government ever planned for slums…”

        Nevermind.

  10. “The Silver Lining in Biden’s Massive Housing Plan”

    When I said that Reason would probably transition from TDS to apologizing for Biden, these are the kinds of statements I was talking about. As bad as the TDS was around here, however, apologizing for the Biden administration will probably be worse–especially over the next 100 days when Biden pushes his awful anti-libertarian, anti-capitalist policies through Congress.

    What’s worse, ignoring Trump’s libertarian accomplishments or apologizing for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, coming after our gun rights, bailing out the states, and packing the Supreme Court? I say apologizing for Biden’s authoritarianism and socialism is far worse than ignoring Trump’s accomplishments in cutting taxes, cutting a withdrawal deal with the Taliban, etc.

    1. Pretty much every Reason article for the next six months will be ‘good news’ about how the statism isn’t quite as bad as it could be.

    2. Next few articles:

      The silver lining in Biden’s bailout of blue state pension plans.

      The silver lining in Biden’s multi-trillion dollar Green New Deal.

      The silver lining in Biden’s war on Syria.

    3. Ken, you’re the only reason I click into this site. Between the pro central planning morons and the commenters that feed and spar with trolls, you are the one keeping this site up. I assume gubmint planning jobs are a jobs program for millennials that refuse to take risk (opening their own business) or cannot compete with Asians at the STEM or tech level.

      Thanks Ken

      1. Those white kids have to work somewhere, and all the tech jobs are filled with through visa slavery these days.

  11. So, the ‘good from a libertarian perspective’ is the Federal government taking more direct control over local decisions?

    If that’s the best we can hope for the country is fucked.

    1. Reason is not libertarian.

  12. Also, you might want to edit your stuff to updated it with current events.

    Like, I joke about the editing here but fucking really? You drafted this and no one noticed before publication?

    1. You’ve been gas-lighted!

    2. What do you want?

      Editors note: The Democrats took the Senate and now we’re all fucked. Oops.

      1. At least. Not a straight copy-paste of an article who’s ‘silver lining’ relies solely on the Republicans retaining the Senate failing to not that that condition no longer applies.

        Like, maybe some awareness that even that sliver of ‘hope’ (and I still don’t understand why anyone would think it a good idea that zoning move from local control – as bad as it is – to Federal) isn’t applicable.

  13. A Democratic White House and a Republican Senate might be the best of all worlds when it comes to federal housing policy

    Isn’t this a libertarian magazine? You forgot the “no policy” option.

    1. No policy? Surely, you’re not suggesting we do nothing… something must be done… think of the children… what are you, a misanthrope, an anarchist?

  14. so are there any real libertarian web sites this Reason is no longer libertarian. i came hear years ago to learn new perspectives and Reason was good and the comments taught me a lot i even read a few gooks that were recommended by commenters but Reason is no longer libertarian. I will keep coming here though to read the other side but Reason is pretty mush a democrat talking point now.

    1. “gooks”

      Racist.

    2. Paul mentioned Spiked Online. Others have mentioned Mises.org. There’s always Glibertarians. I don’t know if grylliade.org is still extant.

    3. There’s mine, but I haven’t updated in a long time:

      http://users.bestweb.net/~robgood/political.html

      1. thanks book marked a few for future reading

  15. The Libertarian Case For Federal Control Of Local Zoning Issues.

    Or

    The Libertarian Case For Making Everyone Live The Way I Think They Should

    1. Government imposing their preferred outcomes has been the Reason approach to ‘libertarianism’ since even before Trump.

    2. The Libertarian Case for Making Sure We Can Build Some Democrat Enclaves in Exclusive Republican Voting Communities.

  16. “…and a Republican Senate”

    That would have been nice, but now we have Madame Vice President / President of the Senate I will break every tie Harris.

    Scotus and some recently confirmed justices of the lower courts are are only bastion at this point.

  17. Sorry Christian, there is no silver lining in fascism.

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  19. The best of all worlds is to abolish all federal housing plans. Housing plans are not an enumerated power of Congress, so they’re illegal. Beyond that, they are ineffective compared to free market solutions, and if you like government intervention, a federal plan is worse than state or county level plans that can be tailored to local conditions, or more easily avoided by moving.

    1. Interstate commerce –
      General welfare –
      CDC prevention of disease spread –

      Anything the dems do is constitutional, just ask them.

  20. It really seems like people who spend money in the economy like parking spots and dislike forced public transportation.

    My nephew lives in San Jose and used to spend a ton of money on Sharks games. Apparently, they did away with most parking and tried to force fans to take public transportation. He told my brother (his Dad) that public transportation was not a place he wanted to take his small children,( gangs of feral teens and homeless). They used to spend a ton of money on those games, vendors etc, restaurants nearby. This was long before the lockdowns.

    destroying livelihoods one mandate at a time.

  21. The best Housing Plna is no Plan At all . Whatever they come up with or hujj up doesnt always add up with the masses . Thats my view lilumdiksurmuntimnal

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