Monday, August 18, 2014

What is the Target Efficiency of Affordable Housing Policies in NYC?

A provocative argument that it's not very good:
"Why is it in the nation's interest to spend federal dollars so arts industry folks can reside in one of the world's most expensive neighborhoods? Why don't affordable housing set-asides ever go to back-kitchen restaurant workers, house cleaners, or car wash employees? The answer: Those jobs aren't a stepping stone to more lucrative employment, so they don't appeal to college-educated elites.
Giving poor people cash in the form of a negative income tax or something would let them decide how much they value living in desirable locations (by renting or buying market-rate). I suspect that if given the choice to pocket a bunch of money and live in a cheaper area, many would opt for this. The social mission of keeping certain areas economically diverse does seem important, but let's not forget it carries a social cost of its own, in the form of less well-targeted aid to poor people.

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