Econ 101: How to Solve the Valley’s Housing Crisis

Photo Credit: ASU News

I believe that we have a pretty sophisticated readership here, a subscriber base of highly educated people. As such, I assume many of you who are reading this have taken an Economics class or two.

If you haven’t, I’ll explain one very simple principle: supply versus demand. Simply put, when supply of a good or service remains steady but demand increases, the price of that good or service will increase. Also, when demand holds steady but supply decreases, the price will also increase. But let’s look at the reverse; what if you want price to decrease? Well that will happen if either demand decreases, or supply increases.

Now let’s consider a problem that is playing out through households around the Valley at the moment: housing costs, and more specifically, rent costs. More and more, people across ideological spectrums are realizing that the recent rises in rent prices are unsustainable and are having a seriously negative impact on everyday people. And the AZ Department of Housing agrees, saying that we need an additional 270,000 homes to prevent the problem from becoming a full-blown crisis.

So why is this so hard? The answer is that we need to build, build, build. If only it was that easy however; anyone who has ever worked in development, has been to city council meetings, or understands lobbying knows that the citizenry will rile themselves into a fervor over nearly any development project. NIMBYism is a well known practice, but it has spread into NIYBYEism: Not In Your Back Yard Either. The thrill of having an impact clouds the reasonable judgment of most people, and people will organize against nearly any project.

In the words of Michael Jordan in an anti-drug PSA that most people under the age of 40 know: Stop. Get some help.

We must build more housing options, and that means that some may be in your neighborhood. Obviously having some standards are still important, and numerous stakeholders should be heard. But it’s about time that lawmakers and activists meet developers halfway. In Scottsdale, numerous projects have made concessions at the requests of citizens and the City Council, only be told that it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

We must stop this insanity, and we do that by building. It may be in your neighborhood, and THAT’S ALRIGHT. Reasonably priced housing means more expendable income for everyone and a better economy. It’s long past time that we stop looking for reasons to reject housing developments, and look for places where we can agree and work together, instead of simply saying No.