The “Affordable Housing” challenge

March 11, 2022 by Joshua
in Creativity, Nature

If you believe, as I do, that humans have overpopulated the Earth, there’s a big problem with affordable housing.


Every politician promotes building more buildings, and attaching the term “affordable housing” to any project helps it get popular support. I don’t remember hearing anyone oppose “affordable housing.”

Before cars overran cities, people didn’t complain about building highways into cities. Few people, maybe no one, anticipated induced demand, where building roads created more demand for more roads, which fed a cycle people still promote today.

Likewise, before the Green Revolution, nobody opposed technological advances to increase yields per acre. Few people, maybe no one, anticipated soil degradation, ocean dead zones from too much artificial fertilizers, communities torn apart, and other problems from the Green Revolution’s technology.

Unintended side effects often create greater problems than the problems many solutions purport to solve. Cars reduced horse manure choking cities, yet now contribute to a global greenhouse effect that may harm more than city dwellers.

What are the unintended side effects of building more affordable housing? Might it induce demand for more population? Might it contribute to more overcrowding and overpopulation?

It’s tempting to attack me, who owns his apartment and doesn’t fear living in the street. I grew up part time in borderline welfare housing, but that’s beside the point. We have to be able to talk about problems without attacking people for considering all angles.

Imagine in the 1920s car owners said, “stop building so many roads, we don’t need them and they’ll choke our cities” before the United States went crazy building cities with highways through their cores. We might have avoided this (instead we’re creating more like it):

Successful alternatives

Regarding cars and roads, other cities and nations built for people instead of cars and created more livable, less polluting cities. The video series, Not Just Bikes, that this one is a part of documents how we Americans could have lived instead:

Could we create alternative housing solutions to building more buildings all the time? If you couldn’t have imagined Holland’s many solutions, I suggest that if you can’t think of any solution besides building more housing, that’s a failure of your imagination, not a lack of solutions.

EDIT: studies corroborating my view:

This article from my local paper, the Village Sun, links to several studies, concluding “unfettered market-rate housing production not only doesn’t bring housing prices down, but can actually drive it up, and drive out lower-income residents and decrease diversity.”

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