Switching local government to a ward system may depress new housing construction

Switching a town’s governing council from at-large to district representation can lead to less housing getting built, new research finds. In a policy brief, “Warding off Development: Local Control, Housing Supply and NIMBYs,” Evan Mast shows that towns reduced permitted housing units by 21 percent after the switch.

Mast’s earlier research has shown that new housing construction makes rents more affordable, both across a region and in the neighborhood. He sought to explore whether increasing local control could empower NIMBY—"not in my backyard”—residents to prevent this construction.

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Date: July 21, 2020