Immigration Is Driving America’s Suburban Housing Crisis
Americans may no longer enjoy the freedom to choose a single-family home for their families as government deprives them of that right for the purported greater good. Increasingly, the government is banning new single-family homes and is transforming tranquil suburban homes into duplexes and triplexes, all in the name of affordable housing.
The government is actually manufacturing the crisis by sanctioning uncontrolled immigration, which is the primary economic driver causing unaffordable housing, and Americans are paying the price.
What does all this mean for you, John or Jane Q. Taxpayer living in the suburbs? As these laws spread, it can only mean more population density, higher rents and lower home values.
Legal and illegal aliens flock to urban areas but increasingly to the suburbs, lured by generous social benefit programs. Sanctuary policies shield them from ICE apprehension and deportation as city and county workers are barred from asking about their immigration status.
Minneapolis was one of the first cities in the U.S. to approve a comprehensive plan to transform its city into denser housing developments in single-family neighborhoods to handle its immigration-fueled population growth. The plan eliminates single-family zoning and allows housing of up to three units or triplexes in all parts of the city.
Arlington County, Va., and Montgomery County, Md., both suburbs of Washington, D.C., recently passed zoning amendments to provide more affordable housing.
The Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance argued that there has been a shortage of affordable homes in Arlington County and used Amazon’s promise to house 25,000 jobs at one of their new headquarters in Crystal City to create a sense of urgency to address the housing supply and affordability gap.
Arlington’s new zoning ordinance allows homeowners to build a second home on their property to create more affordable housing. Two years ago, Arlington County’s board voted to allow property owners to convert garages into rentable homes. Now, anyone with space for it will be able to build brand new “detached dwellings”—so-called detached “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs) —in their yards.
As for the Amazon workers, affordable housing shouldn’t be a problem for most of them since the average yearly salary will be $150,000. Moreover, many of them will probably choose to live outside of the Crystal City area, and certainly, will not be living in someone’s garage.
Although Montgomery County had legalized ADUs years ago, the new amendment removed prohibitions on detached auxiliary dwellings allowing homeowners to transform garages, basements, or detached structures into separate residences.
One of the tragedies of these changes is that politicians’ obsession with housing more migrants in their communities often comes at the expense of American citizens suffering from homelessness and a lack of affordable housing.
Take Portland, Maine, where over 430 asylum-seekers from Africa came across the southern border this summer and ended up in Portland. Due to limited space, city officials opened an emergency shelter at the Portland Expo Center to accommodate them.
An investigative journalist in Portland reported that while state and city leaders scrambled to find housing for the immigrants, some homeless Mainers said they felt left behind. The reporter found more than 18,000 Mainers have been waiting years for Section 8 housing assistance.
One homeless person said that she lost her apartment after she got sick and has been waiting years for housing. She added, "Of course when the asylum-seekers come up here they offered them free housing. How do they have a place for them but not for us?"
At last check, the City of Portland has found homes throughout Maine for more than 200 asylum-seekers, and most of them will receive vouchers for housing, food, and medicine. However, there is no mention of the fate of thousands of Americans still waiting for housing in Maine.
This problem is not contained to Maine, as New York City just made it easier for illegal aliens to apply for affordable housing.
Uncontrolled immigration—legal and illegal—is the primary economic catalyst for the housing crisis in major cities nationwide. It should be no surprise that reducing immigration levels annually would save American taxpayers billions of dollars in welfare benefits that could be better spent taking care of America’s own homeless and ensuring working-class Americans are still able to buy affordable homes and live the American dream.
Beware of local leaders peddling suburban zoning changes as a compassionate solution for affordable housing shortages. More often than not, it is a thinly-veiled attempt to increase the community’s sanctuary city credentials. That may serve the interests of politicians and migrants, but not legal residents who own homes or desperately need them.
John Rooney is director of investigations at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.
Also published at: John Rooney, Immigration Is Driving America’s Suburban Housing Crisis, The Daily Caller, August 27, 2019.