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The Pandemic Isn’t Killing Cities. Housing Regulations Are

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The Pandemic Isn’t Killing Cities. Housing Regulations Are

National Review Online November 18, 2020
Urban PolicyHousing

Cities that don't welcome new residents won't thrive.

In the wake of COVID-19, preliminary data suggest few Americans are actually fleeing cities. This means that housing shortages are not going away in America’s most in-demand metros, pushing up prices in places like Austin and preventing cities such as New York from becoming more affordable. And it means that our communities need to make it easier for Americans to find or build homes lest a deadly health crisis worsen our already dire housing crisis.

Today’s urban crisis is really a tale of two cities: New York and San Francisco. Moving requests from New Yorkers using United Van Lines were 52 percent higher than the national average in September and 128 percent above the national rate in San Francisco, more than in any other major metro area across the United States. Both cities this summer saw an 80 percent jump in moving activity on Hire A Helper from March to June. Unsurprisingly, the number of for-sale signs jumped this September by 51 percent in San Francisco and 20 percent in New York City year-on-year. Zillow Research found that aside from those two cities, “suburban housing markets have not strengthened at a disproportionately rapid pace compared to urban markets.”

Rather than fleeing to the country, the people leaving these big cities went to other big cities: places like Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Tampa for those moving out of New York City, and Seattle, Austin, and Chicago for those leaving San Francisco. Nationwide, the most popular destinations for homebuyers on RedFin are Sacramento, Austin, and Las Vegas, with Nashville experiencing the biggest jump in demand since last year among major metros. LinkedIn’s analysis of job-movers pointed to Jacksonville, Salt Lake City, and, again, Sacramento as the big winners, while the steepest declines were in New York City and San Francisco. Statewide, California and New York’s loss is Florida, Texas, and Tennessee’s gain.

Continue reading the entire piece here at National Review Online


Michael Hendrix is the director of state & local policy at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here. 

Photo by Joseph Christopher Oropel/iStock