New Prospect Piece on How Regionalism Can Drive Affordable Housing - and a Summary of My Related Pieces this Past Year
If you want housing, the same people building transit and coordinating job creation need to be involved. And I link it to my overall writing on regionalism this past year.
If you want housing, the same people building transit and coordinating job creation need to be involved. Which as my Prospect piece details, requires stronger regional governments.
Housing advocates tend to concentrate on policy and funding levels, but what is also needed is rethinking the ways our fractured governmental divisions make that coordination nearly impossible. And as I stress "regional governments don't have to be built from scratch. While often invisible to local residents, the federal government has quietly encouraged the creation of what are called Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) for 400 metropolitan regions" So what the federal government can do is better fund them and strengthen their leverage to coordinate jobs, transit and housing in each metropolitan region.
This piece builds on a series of articles I’ve written on the importance of progressives shifting federal funding from the states to local governments. So I thought I would give a quick guide to those pieces.
This Nation piece traced the history of the federal government running its national programs largely through the states beginning with the Great Depression - and the breakdown of that system as many state governments began resisting implementing them (see Medicaid expansion.) It laid out the broad case for strengthening regional governments to undercut red state power and empower local elected governments.
This New York Daily News piece looked at the particular history of dysfunctional planning in the New York City region to illustrate these problems. And emphasized that the problem of state governments undermining of urban power is not limited to red states; New York is a perfect example of a state govt long ignoring local transit concerns.
Earlier in 2021, in TheWeek.com, I underemphasized that the American Rescue Plan Act was that it was the first large-scale direct transfer of federal funds to local governments in a generation. This not only helped those communities economically but would give those local governments leverage over red state governments that have used fiscal austerity to discipline often Democratic-leaning local governments.
This TheWeek.com piece detailed all the ways red states were overturning local progressive policies, from mask mandates to local minimum wage laws. We need federal policy that protects local power against state preemption. While there are clearly times when uniform policy in a state may be useful, there are also clearly areas where local choices and innovation should take precedence.
This is a theme I will no doubt be writing more about in coming years since the faceoff between progressive urban America and exurban-rural dominated red states is likely only to increase.