When Margaret Thatcher said, "There is no alternative" (to market-based governance), she meant "STOP TRYING TO THINK OF AN ALTERNATIVE."

It worked.

Exhibit A: the utter failure of cities to provide affordable housing.

In NYC, the "affordable housing" strategy consists of giving developers breaks if they designate some of the units in their buildings as sub-market rent for people in housing poverty. These scarce units are allocated by lottery.

This is an utter, utter failure.


Landlords are given a range of rents they're allowed to charge in "affordable" units. The lowest prices have the highest demand, thanks to the large number of working poor and disabled people barely clinging to life in the city.

Then there's the highest end: rents priced for people whose current housing situation strains their finances but does not put them in danger of eviction, starvation, or even having their utilities cut off. This category has the least demand.


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You'll never guess which kind of units landlords prefer to build.

Remember, it's a lotto. You can only get a lotto ticket if your income is in the right bracket. Which means there are more tickets available for high-priced units, while these are the units with lowest demand.

But don't worry, NYC has a plan to fix this.

They're building a system that won't let people who don't earn enough to pay rent on the high-end places to put their names down for one.


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That will spare renting agencies the bother of turning down these ineligible bidders.

This is the kind of "solution" you only come up with if you start from the premise that the answer to a "market failure" like huge swathes of the workforce not being able to afford shelter is "market interventions."


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That is, it's the kind of solution that starts from excluding any real, muscular public action. Like, how about if instead of trying to "incentivize" the super-profitable property sector who've torn down all the affordable housing to throw New Yorkers the odd crumb...

...New York just builds the housing it needs?


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