The Left’s Campaign for Socialized Housing

Article subtitle: 
Big Philanthropy has aligned with "Homes Guarantee" advocates to end private homeownership.
Article author: 
Robert Stilson
Article publisher: 
American Conservative
Article date: 
19 August 2021
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

... An increasingly vocal and well-heeled segment of the progressive left, however, disagrees and is calling for dramatic changes to America’s housing sector. Last year, the Capital Research Center (CRC) published a two-part series detailing the convoluted and overlapping networks of activist groups that were using the Covid-19 crisis to push for socialized housing in the United States. CRC noted that even though these proposals were often couched in terms of a pandemic response, they were by no means Covid-dependent.

Calls for a government-sponsored “homes guarantee” predate the coronavirus and will continue independent of it. As envisioned by the activist groups behind them and their foundation funders, these proposals would radically federalize and socialize control over American real estate.

A “homes guarantee” seeks to reconceptualize housing as a government-guaranteed social good, rather than a private asset. It calls for massive government spending on and regulation of the housing sector. The goal is to transfer as many housing units as possible from private to public or social control....

Specific proposals include:

  • Constructing “12 million new, non-market social housing units in the next decade.” This works out to building more than one new taxpayer-funded home every 30 seconds, 24 hours a day, nonstop for 10 years.
  • Enacting universal rent control. This is the one thing every economist thinks is a bad idea.
  • Enacting a federal prohibition on single-family zoning. There are fair arguments to be made on zoning, but a blanket national ban would be a tremendous infringement on what are properly state and local prerogatives.
  • Paying racially based housing reparations. While one should always be vigilant against insidious vestiges of Jim Crow, the wrongs of old race-discriminatory housing policies are not righted by new race-discriminatory housing policies.
  • “Strong regulation . . . of real-estate development and investment corporations.” Regulations are already estimated to account for up to 8 percent of the cost of a new single-family home and 32.1 percent (or more) of a multifamily development.
  • Enacting a Green New Deal for Housing.As proposed by the Democratic Party’s socialist wing, this would, among other things, “transition the entire public housing stock . . . into zero carbon, highly energy-efficient developments that produce on-site renewable energy.”...

Good public policy should seek to enable as many Americans as possible to live in homes that they can afford, ideally that they own, and help them stay. But this does not mean that America’s entire housing sector should be remade to suit the priorities of left-wing activists....