Ed Glaeser Echoes CNU-led Coalition's Call for Fannie/Freddie Reform

In a short opinion piece for the New York Times' "Room for Debate" blog this morning, Harvard economist and Triumph of the City author Ed Glaeser adds his own take on why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform is essential in resetting the nation's attitude towards homeownership. Arguing for the reduction and/or elimination of the federal home mortgage interest deduction, Glaeser writes:

"One advantage of reducing the subsidies for homeownership is that it would reduce the pro-suburban tilt of federal policy. More than 85 percent of apartments in bigger buildings are rented, so subsidizing homeownership pushes Americans away from urban density toward suburbia, leading to longer commutes, more energy use and the decline of urban centers. The federal government should give people the freedom to choose the housing that fits their needs rather than favoring homeownership and borrowing."

Glaeser's sentiments echo that of CNU CEO & President John Norquist, who as we noted here on Monday, led a coalition of CNU-partners to a meeting with HUD/FHA Assistant Secretary of Housing Daniel Stevens last week in Washington. Norquist stated that the "current policies of FHA, the GSEs and the 221(d)4 multi-housing capital program discourage mixed-use development that the market might otherwise support." Norquist's proposal to the FHA to raise the minimum threshold amount of commercial space in mixed-use developments from 25% to 45%, and Glaeser's recommendation for ending subsidies for homeownership, represent a burgeoning practical-minded  approach towards righting what have turned out to be destructive and long-term wrongs in U.S. federal housing policy.

One of the more unusual, and welcome circumstances of the Great Recession has been the slow reemergence of Common Sense. Whether it be in rehabbing big-city centers, or retrofitting small-town squares, allowing for mixed-use and higher-density development represents a return to  proven and traditional methods of land-use that were the initial catalysts for the tremendous economic growth of the nation. In one of the great ironies of the debate over resetting our federal housing policy, people tend to overlook that New Urbanism is Old. Cities, and effectively-built places of all sizes, are creatures and creations of things that already work.

Glaeser and the Norqust-led CNU get this. Join the discussion this year at the 19th Annual Congress for the New Urbanism in Madison, WI from June 1-4, where Ed Glaeser will be a featured speaker. Click this link for full registration details and further information.


"We should rethink all the

"We should rethink all the policies that encouraged Americans to borrow like crazy to bet on the vagaries of the housing market." - Ed Glaeser


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