If a state wants funds for infrastructure, it should meet strict conditions about housing construction.
President Biden’s American Jobs infrastructure plan hopes to shake this country free of wasteful barriers to affordable housing — especially in booming areas.
An “innovative” competitive grant program will act to eliminate these harmful zoning and land-use practices. Mr. Biden has the right goal — reducing regulatory barriers on new construction could have wide-ranging economic benefits that exceed anything else in his $2 trillion plan. But a competitive grant program is too weak to overcome the entrenched interests — like the homeowners who control local zoning boards and the wealthy residents of cooperatives who oppose all neighborhood change — that limit building in productive places.
If the president wants to break the country out of its zoning straitjacket, the infrastructure plan should ensure that no benefits go to states that fail to make verifiable progress enabling housing construction in their high-wage, high-opportunity areas.
Edward L. Glaeser is the Glimp professor of economics at Harvard University, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and contributing editor at City Journal.
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