Munro: Pete Buttigieg’s Immigration Plan Defeats His ‘Affordable Housing’ Plan

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 18: Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign town hall event at Durango Hills Community Center February 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Buttigieg continues to campaign for the upcoming Nevada Democratic presidential caucus. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty …
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s housing plan promises to help city councils replace suburban houses with apartment buildings — but his immigration plan would fill up those extra suburban apartments with more economic migrants.

Buttigieg’s housing plan says:

Housing supply, especially in high-cost cities, is often decreased by burdensome regulations rooted in historically racist single-family zoning policy. Pete will press cities to facilitate inclusive, community-oriented processes to set affordable housing strategies, including reviewing zoning and other locally-determined rules that may constrain new development. In municipalities with the highest rent burdens and most restrictive Pete will implement progressive restrictions of federal funding.

But he said, “This county needs more people than its immigration system is willing to allow” while campaigning in Carson City, Nevada. Buttigieg continued:

So what happens? The people come, but then they are endangered of all of the uncertainties of being undocumented in this country … On day one, we go to the border and we start managing the border in a way that matches our values, as well as our laws. With humanity and compassion as well as security.

Under current rules, the federal government annually imports roughly one million migrants and also keeps an army of at least two million temporary workers in the United States. The inflow has spiked housing prices nationwide.

According to Buttigieg’s policy paper:

In Charleston, South Carolina, a typical bank teller can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment at the median price of $1,113. In Los Angeles, California, a bookkeeper or school bus driver can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom 2 apartment, which rents on average for $1,340 per month.

So Buttigieg’s apparently contradictory policy offers few gains to lower-income Americans and their young families. His housing plan would help reduce apartment prices — but his rush of extra migrants would trim Americans’ wages.

The result is more Americans and migrants will end up living in small apartments in subdivided suburban lots, emulating California’s housing crisis.

But Buttigieg’s two policies would also combine to create a huge boon to construction firms, real estate firms, and local governments. His policy would allow them to crack open suburban zoning rules and then resell slices of suburbia to poor Americans and new arrivals.

That strategy is already being pushed by investor groups, such as the Economic Innovation Group. A booklet by the EIG group says:

The relationship between population growth and housing demand is clear. More people means more demand for housing, and fewer people means less demand … As a result, a shrinking population will lead to falling prices and a deteriorating, vacancy-plagued housing stock that may take generations to clear.

The potential for skilled immigrants to boost local housing markets is clear. Notably, economist Albert Saiz (2007) found a 1% increase in population from immigration causes housing rents and house prices in U.S. cities to rise commensurately, by 1%.

Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren have also backed the more migration/less suburbia strategy favored by the progressive alliance of investors and pro-migration ideologues:

This policy is increasingly popular among pro-migration Democratic legislators in cities and states, but it is generating massive opposition from homeowners in Los Angeles, Seattle, and many other towns.

In July 2019, Politico covered the issue with the headline, “How Minneapolis Freed Itself From the Stranglehold of Single-Family Homes: Desperate to build more housing, the city just rewrote its decades-old zoning rules.” The article said:

Thanks in part to activists like [Janne] Flisrand and [John] Edwards, Minneapolis just did away with the rules that gave single-family homes a stranglehold on nearly three-quarters of the city. In December, Neighbors for More Neighbors, the group co-founded by Flisrand and Edwards about two years ago to address Minneapolis’ affordable housing crisis, won a victory unseen in any other major American city. The city council approved the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan, which declares the city’s intent to abolish single-family-home zoning and allow duplexes and triplexes to be built anywhere in the city.

But the push to fracture is not popular. Politico said:

Single-family-only neighborhoods, a staple of city and suburban planning, are woven into the DNA of the American dream: the leafy, peaceful street lined with stand-alone houses, green lawns and plenty of elbow room. Minneapolis’ new vision of itself would essentially rewrite that code—reshaping the urban streetscape around walking and mass transit and rebooting the American dream to be more racially and economically inclusive.

But the mayor predicts the 2040 plan’s results will eventually vindicate his approach. “While people might hate my guts for a couple of years,” he said. “I’m confident that a little down the road, it’ll be apparent that we took the right route.”

The irony of the progressives’ policy is that housing prices tend to rise fastest in the non-diverse districts favored by the progressives whose income is cut the most by college graduate migration:

Buttigieg’s housing policy also promised to revive policies created by President Barack Obama that encouraged poor Americans — especially black Americans — to exit valuable land in progressives’ cities and then move to cheaper housing in distant counties.

Buttigieg’s policy says:

Pete’s administration will direct federal resources and technical assistance to states and cities for the housing interventions that are right for them. … Pete will support states and municipalities in partnering with the private sector to provide workforce housing.

Fully reinstate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. Reinstating this rule will ensure that states, local governments, and public housing authorities combat segregation, foster inclusive communities, and improve housing opportunities for individuals in need.

The Buttigieg plan also calls for a revival of the disastrous pro-housing policies pushed by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Their policies got more immigrants and poor Americans into houses — but it crashed the economy once the poor people could not pay their mortgages.

Buttigieg says he will:

Work with Congress to ensure equal access to an affordable 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for working families. Pete will support and expand access to affordable, federally-backed home loans for low- and moderate-income families. In Pete’s administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will play their intended role in the housing finance system–ensuring liquidity for affordable mortgages while serving all qualified homebuyers, especially those who have not been well-served by the mortgage finance system to date.

Fully reinstate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. Reinstating this rule will ensure that states, local governments, and public housing authorities combat segregation, foster inclusive communities, and improve housing opportunities for individuals in need–from low-income individuals and people with disabilities to people exiting the criminal justice or foster care systems.


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