Help The Poor By Building For The Rich

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February 12, 2016

Everyone has heard Robin Hood’s motto to take from the rich and give to the poor. But here is a little bit of a twist on that motto, build for the rich to help the poor.

Build housing for the rich to help the poor? Yes, it seems strange, but the idea behind it is that if the sheer amount of housing is increased, regardless of who it is for, competition for housing will decrease, which will in turn cause rents to fall, as well. It sounds feasible, but it also sounds like something that might work better in theory as opposed to real life.

But as The Washington Post reports, there is actually some data to back this up. Especially in the obscenely expensive Bay Area, researchers have found that low-income neighborhoods with a lot of new construction have experienced about half the displacement of similar neighborhoods that have not added much new housing. So, adding more market-rate housing has actually lessened the displacement of the poor.

Even more interesting is the fact that the benefit of all the construction is not based on inclusionary policies that require developers to put aside affordable units in market-rate buildings.

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