The housing shortage cannot be solved with grass
By Scott Tibbs, June 21, 2021
Housing is in short supply and housing prices are increasing. This is the law of supply and demand: When supply is low, prices go up. It is too bad that the "Green Democrats" in Monroe County do not understand this, and blocked a much-needed housing development south of Bloomington.
The plan was to build "190 paired townhomes" that would be sold for $250,000 each. While this sounds very expensive, it is not unusual for today's housing market. Owner-occupied homes offer advantages over rentals, including stability, an incentive to care for the home, and the opportunity to build equity.
Despite the clear housing shortage, the president of the county plan commission president claimed the county does not need more housing. This ignores the number of people commuting into the county, meaning their property taxes and automobile excise taxes go to neighboring counties.
It also should not be up to county government to determine if the townhomes would be popular. However, the developer is willing to take the risk, and he is much more knowledgeable about the housing market. It should not be up to county government to determine that the homes look "too similar." We do not and should not live in a command-and-control economy where local government determines how homes look.
Even some conservatives have joined the "Green Democrats" in opposing this development, raising unfounded concerns about "project housing" and converting single-family homes to duplexes or apartments. But this is not changing core neighborhoods - it is developing vacant land. "Project housing" would defeat the purpose of the development, which is to sell the homes at a profit.
The land is going to be developed. Either we can have more density just south of Bloominton - in an are of the county that is growing - or we can have the developer build single-family homes that will be much more expensive than the townhomes that were proposed. This will price many more people out of the market and do nothing to help the families looking for a starter home.
The basic issue here is private property rights. The developer paid for the land. The Green Democrats stopped him from building the townhomes on the land he owns. If they want to control the development, then county government should buy the land.
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