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Housing crisis more than ‘capitalism’

I write in response to Ben Waddell’s Oct. 1 column, “Housing crisis isn’t a crisis. It’s capitalism.” I appreciate Waddell’s contribution to my hometown and alma mater, and agree with some of his points. I’d like to explore factors other than “capitalism” contributing to the affordable housing crisis that are addressable with local action.

If we're honest, voters, conservationists and neighborhood associations also share blame for policies reducing available affordable housing stock. The offending “ism” is as much “NIMBYism” (not in my backyard) as capitalism. Coastal California, Portland, Santa Fe, Seattle and Telluride all suffer from an acute lack of affordable housing.

They all share progressive politics and devote significant financial resources to the issue. Why can’t they make a dent despite popular and financial support? Because obvious solutions are unpopular. Sometimes, also, benevolent intent has negative consequences. No solution comes without cost and the most effective solutions come at some expense to existing home prices, “neighborhood character,” conservation and open space.

The problem isn’t only that monied interests want to buy trailer parks, but also that there are not enough trailer parks. Revising zoning to increase density, make construction cheaper, allow mobile homes, reduce the burden of historic designations, and require that all new developments include some affordable housing are all examples of steps we can take to increase the supply of affordable housing.

If we prioritize other interests over affordable housing, that's fine. Let's just be honest about it instead of casting all blame on malevolent outside forces.

Benjamin Shisler

Austin, Texas