Is housing policy stopping people from moving here?January 24th, 2011 at 8:42 am by Ted Nesi under General Talk
Last week’s much-discussed OSPRI report, which attributed Rhode Island’s limited population growth to economic factors like the estate tax, has stirred lots of discussion about what’s keeping more people from moving here.
For another hypothesis, check out Harvard economist Edward Glaesar’s essay in Sunday’s Boston Globe Magazine:
To really understand the conundrum of a state like Massachusetts – with its high incomes and low population growth – we must factor in our lack of housing. An area’s growth is almost perfectly correlated with the increase in the number of homes. If you don’t build, you don’t grow, and our state just doesn’t build.
The issue isn’t lack of demand for new housing, but the vast number of local regulations that deter it. …
While our anti-change rules may keep our communities looking the way we like them, they also mean that we do a worse job of providing affordable housing than deep red states, such as Texas.
Although Glaesar is writing about Massachusetts, the issue he raises could also apply to Rhode Island.
The state added only 11,940 new housing units between July 2000 and July 2009, according to the Census Bureau, bringing the total number to 452,191 – a 2.7% increase over nine years. “Rhode Islanders face a widening gap between their income and their housing costs despite decreased home prices,” HousingWorksRI reported in its housing affordability study last September.