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Old 02-08-2013, 11:31 AM
 
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Obviously, residents of our biggest cities live with the burden of high rents/mortgages. To me, this seems just as much a "livability" issue as any other. And not just for people, but for business and government as well. What are some feasible steps that could be taken to address this, but also avoid the monstrous failures of 20th century public housing?
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Michigan
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Move to cheaper cities.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:51 AM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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Originally Posted by animatedmartian View Post
Move to cheaper cities.
Now accepting applications.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:09 PM
 
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People love writing lengthy, detailed posts about how to fight sprawl or crime or other urban problems. But nobody has any ideas about this problem other than move somewhere else? That's disappointing. I don't expect to get Manhattan for the price of Boise, but surely, something can be done to make this much ignored and very real problem somewhat better.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:18 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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Originally Posted by eastmemphisguy View Post
I don't expect to get Manhattan for the price of Boise, but surely, something can be done to make this much ignored and very real problem somewhat better.
In the case of Manhattan, rent controls attempt this. I'm not sure what else can be done there. The demand is high. There are plenty of areas in the outer boroughs and in NJ where one can live more cheaply and still get to manhattan in a reasonable amount of time. Millions of people do it.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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There's a few reasons why I think Toronto is expensive.

-Certain limitations to outward growth, not just related to how subdivisions get approved and the greenbelt, but congestion and distance to jobs too.
-Requirements for 50-60ft ROWs, plus front setbacks, backyards and minimum lot widths in many suburbs. This means it's much less profitable (if at all) for developers to build smaller, cheaper houses because they can't come with small lot sizes (land is relatively expensive, as are the streets)
-Basement apartments are illegal in many Toronto suburbs, although that's changing now
-In addition to limits to outward growth, intensification can only occur in a few select areas due to NIMBYism and what not, so these select areas have high land values that mean you have to build higher to make a profit. However, building high is expensive, 3-5 storey wood-frame apartments would be much cheaper to build than 30 storey towers
-parking requirements and various other ammenity requirements don't help with added costs
-NIMBYism also leads to bit tall towers because it's more difficult to get a 5 storey 15 unit apartment approved in a lowrise area than an extra 2 floors with 15 units on a 40 storey condo
-could be a bit too easy to get a mortgage too, if people are allowed to get a mortgage for a home they can't afford, housing costs will be higher and it can lead to problems down the line

I think many other cities are facing similar limitations, with limits to outward growth but few possibilities for low rise intensification or small lot (say 1000-2500sf) greenfield development.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:16 PM
 
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It's a matter of supply and demand. Clearly, we need to build more big cities. There's a prime spot just north of Windsor, Ontario that isn't being used; maybe we could start there :-)

New York's rent regulations distort the heck out of the housing market. Basically builders don't want to build too much which will fall under rent stabilization rules, so most construction is luxury (except for 80/20 set-asides which net the developers tax breaks, and other such complications) Result is you have a lot of very expensive housing, an almost-fixed supply of older less-expensive (but still far from cheap) housing, and then the projects. Plus a few people hanging on to pre-WWII rent _controlled_ (not stabilized) places. Whether they result in a net benefit or harm is hard to determine.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:18 PM
 
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Plenty of things could be done. Not saying these are wise ideas by any means, but just as an illustration that it's not 100% beyond the power of policy makers.
To increase supply:
Change zoning rules to encourage developers to tear down the old three/four floor buildings and build taller buildings.
Sell park land to developers.
Levy a special tax on low rise buildings.
Remove prohibitions on basement/rear apartments
Streamline local approval for all new development

To reduce demand: (and many of the above would do that as well)
Aggressively enforce immigration laws.
Increase local tax rates
Pay people to leave
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Michigan
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Cities have to accept sprawl as a 'necessary evil' to keep prices low or residents should/will find cheaper cities where supply is high and demand is low(er). Government intervention has its limits, as pointed out, but otherwise the only option is sprawl.

And actually, when I say "sprawl" I really mean any development that is away from the city center. For example, if NYC's financial districts spread into Queens or Brooklyn instead of just being limited to Manhattan. Or if NYC's suburbs became as dense as Manhattan. It'd increase the supply and alleviate demand and would at least lower prices in Manhattan (but inversely increase them in the suburbs). Or the metropolitan region as a whole needs to spread out more to create more supply and reduce prices overall. But obviously there's realistic limits to this as well.

Edit: Eh, many other posts pretty much already said this as I was typing this out.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
In the case of Manhattan, rent controls attempt this. I'm not sure what else can be done there. The demand is high. There are plenty of areas in the outer boroughs and in NJ where one can live more cheaply and still get to manhattan in a reasonable amount of time. Millions of people do it.
Depends what direction you're coming at it from. If you've lived in Manhattan for 30 years, rent control is great. You're paying basically nothing. On the other hand, you won't move because your rent-controlled apartment is so damn cheap. Even if it doesn't make sense for you to continue to live there. Which means coming from the other side, rent control does a fantastic job of driving up rents even higher than they normally would be. Instead of rent increasing and people moving out, everyone just stays put since rent didn't go up for them. Even if your job moves out to NJ, you're not giving up that apartment. I mean, after all, it's Manhattan and you're only paying $800 a month for a 2bd apartment which in NJ would be more than that.

Tax abatement is also used in NYC. Move into a new condo unit and you don't pay property taxes for X amount of years. Same for new apartment buildings.
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