There is agreement today across the ideological spectrum that the cost of housing is too high. The share of all Americans paying more than 30, 40, or even 50 percent of their monthly income on housing has been growing for a very long time, and the cost of housing nearly everywhere has outpaced income growth year-over-year for decades.
One can marshal many alarming statistics about the cost of housing, but I will rely on an anecdote from my hometown of San Diego. In the 30-mile stretch between the coastal cities of La Jolla and Carlsbad—an area with about 300,000 residents—there is not a single detached home for sale this month under $1 million. Let that sink in.
The high cost of housing hits the poor hardest, of course. It tends to stop the young or unemployed from moving where better jobs are available. Homelessness is way up. Even among upper middle-class families, one now hears a common lament: Their kids and grandkids are moving away to places where they can afford an independent life. Housing costs are a problem.
Leftist activists frequently blame the problem on developers or capitalism while offering plans for more public housing, rent control, or command-and-control style mandates on builders to produce politically-favored forms of housing. In response, conservatives are reticent and sometimes defensive in discussions about housing affordability.