I ask because I have read of more than one mobile home park that was nice and stable being liquidated for development. It seems to me that this is the fatal flaw in mobile home parks.
Housing represents the largest share of consumer expenditures in BLS data. The BLS breaks it down into multiple categories, including shelter, utilities, household operations, supplies, and furnishings. Of these, no surprise, shelter is the biggest expense, representing 19.6 percent of consumer expenditures in 2014. Among the lowest income quintile, the expense share is even higher: 24.8 percent.
Part of the cost of shelter is the land, and part is the cost of the building. Putting aside, at least for purposes of this article, fanciful schemes to create more land, the amount of land available is approximately fixed. This means that there are three ways to reduce the cost of shelter: 1) build more densely (i.e., share expensive land between more households), 2) reduce the cost of construction, and 3) make currently cheap and underutilized land more accessible and useful.
The first, building more densely, is certainly worthwhile, but it is more of a political problem than a technological one. Cities should reduce zoning and height restrictions and eliminate ordinances, such as parking minimums that discourage density. Replacing existing municipal taxes with a land value tax would be helpful in encouraging better and denser use of land.
One not-entirely-political way to increase density might be to experiment with new housing modalities. For instance, what if we had urban dorms for 18–25 year olds who were not currently enrolled in college? That might be cheaper and denser than expecting new high school graduates to get their own full apartment.
The other two approaches to reducing the cost of housing lend themselves more to technological innovation. There has been substantial interest in pre-fab construction in recent years. The technology seems to be able to reduce construction costs by around 20–30 percent. And because pre-fab construction takes less time than traditional construction, it reduces some of the inconveniences that fuel NIMBYism.
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