Monday, October 03, 2005

Trailer Parks are a Bad Idea

So this has been traveling the blogosphere for a bit, but I wanted to put some links here. I think this is a great example of Economists being ignored, despite our near unanimous agreement. Much like we are ignored despite our agreement on trade.

The Bush administration is looking to build trailer parks to house Katrina and Rita victims. There are several reason that his is a bad idea a very bad idea, and economists almost universally endorse the alternative of offering housing vouchers. You need look no further then the failure of public housing projects throughout the country to see why trailer parks might be a bad idea, but even more applicable is the FEMA housing project constructed in the aftermath of hurricane Charley.

"FEMA City is now a socioeconomic time bomb just waiting to blow up," said Bob Hebert, director of recovery for Charlotte County, where most FEMA City residents used to live. "You throw together all these very different people under already tremendous stress, and bad things will happen. And this is the really difficult part: In our county, there's no other place for many of them to go."

"Having lived through the last year here, this is my advice to New Orleans and the other Gulf Coast towns: Don't make big camps with thusands of people, because it doesn't work," Hebert said. "It takes a bad situation and, for many people, actually makes it worse."

Here is Mark Thoma's take on the issue. Marginal Revolution also passed on this recommendation by Ed Olson

Instead the idiots are talking about renting cruise ships, building mobile home parks - or worse yet - converting steel shipping containers. All of this despite the enormous availability of vacant rental units. As Ed Olson points out:

The rental vacancy rate in the United States is at a historically high level. For all metropolitan areas as a group, it is over 10 percent. The largest metropolitan areas in the south central region have some of the highest vacancy rates Â? 15.6 percent in Houston, 14.4 percent in San Antonio, 12.8 percent in Dallas, 12.2 percent in Memphis, 13.1 percent in Birmingham and 18.5 percent in Atlanta. Vacancy rates for smaller metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas are also at historically high levels. In short, many rental units in the south central region and throughout the country are available for immediate occupancy by people with the ability to pay the rent.

Keywords: ECO120, ECO305, Subsidies

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