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News Link • Housing

How Spontaneous Order Keeps Houston Affordable

•, Nolan Gray

All three are victims of their own success, as rising demand for housing has increased rents to unsustainable levels. Despite their best efforts, from rent control to doublespeak "inclusionary zoning" mandates, middle- and lower-class households are increasingly forced to leave these cities as each progressively transforms into a playground of the rich.

Yet there is a fourth city, a city which must not be named except to be derided as a sprawling, suburban hellscape. This fourth city has managed to balance a booming economy, explosive population growth, and affordable housing. This city has—as cities have for thousands of years—steadily grown denser, more walkable, and more attractive to low-income migrants seeking opportunity. This city is Houston, and it's well past time for her to come out of the shadows.

Before jumping into the nitty-gritty of how Houston has handled explosive growth in the demand for housing, it is worth first getting a handle on the magnitude of the challenge facing the city. When many people think of the Houston economy, they understandably think of large energy companies. Indeed, energy companies dominated Houston's economy for much of the last century and continue to play a major role today. But in the years following the 1980s oil glut, Houston's economy has been diversified in large part by startups and emerging small businesses. 

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