Review of Mass Support at CCNY for The Architect's Newspaper

Manufacturing Home: At CCNY, Mass Support documented the work of SAR, led by John Habraken, and displayed alternate forms of housing. The Architect's Newspaper, May 30, 2023.

A uniquely American mania has taken hold in the area of housing reform. For the last few years, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and regional newspapers across the U.S., along with architects, planners, and real estate experts, have proffered the misguided idea that reformation or elimination of zoning would allow the free market to somehow produce an adequate supply of affordably priced dwellings. According to the going logic, if regulations were eased, real estate developers and homebuilders would flood the market with inexpensive units that they would sell at below market rates for mysterious reasons and then donate their potential profits for the benefit of society. Advocates also mistakenly believe that bankers would willfully loan money for this cause at subprime interest rates and, presumably, excuse developers who sell units at less than their offering plan.

Zoning-reform activists may not have been paying attention in 2008 during the subprime mortgage–backed securities crisis. The federal government opted to shore up the banks and allow them to take away the homes of hundreds of thousands of families rather than sacrifice the difference between their declining market value and mortgages. The same thing happened recently, when three banks collapsed in the second-largest incident in American history. The ideology of regulators is to protect bankers, who have no interest in giving away potential profits. No one is giving a break to buyers unless forced to do so. Given this trajectory, the idea that zoning reform by itself, without other regulatory mandates, will have more than a marginal effect on the price of housing is madness. The free market will not save us.

Full story at link.