Column: Single-family living is under attack from greed and politics

Homes for sale in Throggs Neck.
Photo Adrian Childress

It’s time to put aside the politically correct propaganda and have an honest discussion about what is happening to single-and two family-home communities across the United States. Examine why elected officials have taken such a keen interest in all this.

The problem is fairly equally divided between greedy politicians and progressive ideology. Owners of one- and two-family homes and small community-based businesses are not likely to be big contributors to campaigns. Nor are they likely to provide jobs to the relatives and supporters of elected officials, or even to the mayors, senators, congressmen and state legislators themselves when they retire or get booted out of office. If a developer decides he can make a profit by ruining a community, the greedy elected officials will back them up. So, too, the appointed hacks in organizations such as city zoning agencies or similar boards.

But those folks need cover for their inappropriate support. Hence, the development of phrases such as “affordable housing programs,” “scatter site housing” and similar excuses. Oppose these phony dodges and you are branded a racist, or at the very least a heartless cad. Sneering, elitist pseudo-journalists join in this crusade to brand people simply protecting their neighborhoods as a collection of Archie Bunkers.

It’s long been considered part of the American dream — a home and backyard of one’s own, away from the noise and congestion of the inner city. However, some consider it an anti-environmental form of housing that also happens to be politically troublesome as it fosters an anti-high tax, independent way of life that progressives deem repulsive.

The second part involves raw power politics.

Joel Klotin, writing in a Real Clear Politics article, believes that “The next culture war will not be about issues like gay marriage or abortion, but about something more fundamental: how Americans choose to live. In the crosshairs now will not be just recalcitrant Christians or crazed billionaire racists, but the vast majority of Americans who either live in suburban-style housing or aspire to do so in the future. Roughly four in five home buyers prefer a single-family home, but much of the political class increasingly wants them to live differently…You are a political party, and you want to secure the electoral majority. But what happens, as is occurring to the Democrats, when the damned electorate that just won’t live the way—in dense cities and apartments—that you have deemed is best for them?…

University of Washington demographer Richard Morrill notes that the vast majority of the 153 million Americans who live in metropolitan areas with populations of more than 500,000 live in the lower-density suburban places Democrats think they should not. Only 60 million live in core cities. Despite these realities, the Democratic Party, [starting with] Barack Obama…increasingly allied itself with its relatively small core urban base.”

Obama’s goals are being carried out by Biden, and progressive mayors and governors. Former New York State Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross, writing in the New York Post, warns that the anti-private home initiative “would change towns everywhere and, for many families, torpedo the American Dream of a house with a patch of lawn. Advocates for abolishing zoning mock suburbanites for worrying about home values. But for most people, their home is their biggest investment, and they waited years to afford it.”

If politicians were truly concerned about affordable housing, they could easily reduce property taxes, which would make rental housing easier to build and maintain in appropriate venues, and would allow the elderly to stay in the private homes they have occupied for so long and raised families in. They could also allow modern and less expensive forms of construction to be utilized.

It’s not just an East Coast phenomenon. Progressives in California and elsewhere have been attacking single family homeowners for years.

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