Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

City Governments Don’t Care About Housing Affordability | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 25, 2018

The illusion of doing something is far more important than getting results.

When entrepreneurs must bear the consequences not only of their own decisions, but also the decisions of politicians, there will be fewer entrepreneurs, fewer jobs, and fewer housing options.

After the votes are counted following Monday’s election, Paul Cheng, Ed Holder, Paul Paolatto, or Tanya Park will be the new mayor in London, Ontario. All of them express concern about the lack of affordable housing, and all of them propose solutions which fail to address the root causes of the problem. Their concerns may be genuine, but this does not excuse their proposals to throw more tax dollars at a problem created by the government itself.

Government Caused the Problem

At the federal level, the inflationary monetary policies of the banking system, approved by the government, contributes to price inflation. Thus, whether you are buying or renting, rising prices make housing less affordable.

At the provincial level, the government responds to this price inflation by imposing rent controls, which reduces the incentive of entrepreneurs to construct new rental units. Thus, we have an insufficient supply of affordable housing.

At the municipal level, zoning bylaws force entrepreneurs to endure a lengthy process of seeking permission from the government before they construct new housing. Ultimately, permission is sometimes granted,sometimes denied, and sometimes conditional on entrepreneurs modifying or scaling back their plans. Thus, the supply of affordable housing is further reduced.

ChengHolderPark, and Paolatto are all recommending further government intervention to increase the supply of affordable housing, while none of them are recommending the repeal of any of the above mentioned government policies, especially those at the municipal level.

Municipal Meddling

Zoning laws are a violation of private property rights, and should be repealed on that basis alone. However, it is also helpful to take note of the fact that when the government denies people the freedom of choice about how to use their own property, the unavoidable result is that consumers will have fewer options and pay higher prices…

Heritage Designation Prevents Affordable Housing

The municipal government’s meddlesome activities also include heritage designations, which prevent property owners from demolishing their own property in order to construct a new property which they believe will satisfy consumer preferences. For example, this London builder has been denied permission by City Hall to demolish his property and replace it with twelve affordable micro suites (bachelor apartments). Demolition refusal, according to Councillor Stephen Turner,…


When economic activities are directed by those with political skills, instead of those with business skills, overall prosperity declines. Individuals who want to build houses and apartments must first seek permission from politicians and bureaucrats who produce nothing. When entrepreneurs must bear the consequences not only of their own decisions, but also the decisions of politicians, there will be fewer entrepreneurs, fewer jobs, and fewer housing options.

If they really want to increase the supply of affordable housing, the four leading mayoral candidates in London, Ontario, should be calling on the federal and provincial governments to repeal all policies that make housing more expensive. And they should favour the elimination of all municipal roadblocks to housing construction, including zoning laws and heritage designations. The fact that none of the four candidates are doing this means they either do not care about the supply of affordable housing, or their economic ignorance prevents them from seeing that governments outlaw affordable housing.

Be seeing you


The face of socialism


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