New MIT study suggests the Yimby narrative on housing is wrong

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Mission-Bay-at-Third

Third Street before the new buildings and platforms were added to the mix by zrants

Higher density leads to higher prices, not more affordability, a review of an upzoning experiment in Chicago shows.

The Yimby narrative – that higher density in US cities will bring down housing prices – doesn’t work in real life, a dramatic new study from an MIT doctoral student suggests.

In fact, the study, released today, shows that – at least in Chicago, where author Yonah Freemark complied the data – upzoning for greater density leads to increased housing costs.

There’s no evidence in the study that allowing greater density in areas close to transit actually leads to more construction – certainly not to the construction of affordable units.

Affordability in the areas where the city allowed increased density declined, he reports.

Freemark looked at places in Chicago where the city, in an effort to promote more “smart growth,” changed the zoning laws to allow more density near rail stops. That’s a concept that many modern urban planners have been promoting.

What he found is that the price of land rose in the upzoned areas, housing became more expensive – and there was no discernible increase in the number of building permits or new units constructed… (more)

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