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Democrats must figure out how to address Blue America’s housing crisis

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There’s nothing like people-watching on L.A.’s West Side, where some folks pitch tents in the parks, while others go in and out of $4 million three-bedroom houses — coffee mug in one hand, Maltese in the other — to get you thinking about affordable housing in the United States.

There is much talk of a crisis, based on statistics such as this one, from a 2018 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts: Of the nearly 43 million households who rented their homes in the United States, 7.3 million — 17 percent — spend half or more of their monthly income on rent. Often, their apartments are an hour or two away from where they work.

The situation is worst in booming coastal cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, which means it is mostly a Blue America problem, and that Democrats — both those who run the blue states and those campaigning for president — are under pressure to come up with solutions.

It’s tricky: Democrats are the party of government, but the housing crisis is in large part government-created.

To cut a long story short, blue American cities and counties need new rental housing, but local zoning, building codes, approval processes and other regulations — the whole legal infrastructure that keeps West L.A. neighborhoods neat, green and oh-so-pleasant — hinder construction.

That web of rules has accrued over decades: In 1960, Los Angeles had 2.5 million people and enough zoned real estate to accommodate housing for 10 million. By........

© Washington Post