What can we really learn about housing from Vienna?
Mostly that it's good to build more housing
There’s a perennial fascination in certain circles with the success of Vienna’s large-scale social housing program, which really does seem nice (Vienna is a nice place in general) and which demonstrates that public ownership of a very large share of the housing stock is possible.
The city was recently described in the New York Times as a “renters’ utopia,” and the Financial Times profiled it in 2018 as a “renters’ paradise.” More pointedly, Daniel Denvir and Yonah Freemark wrote a piece in Slate last week calling for more investment in public housing as the real solution to America’s housing woes. I find Freemark to be a vexing figure. He was the lead author on a recent study that conclusively proved supply skepticism is wrong, but chose to frame the outcome as calling YIMBYism into question.
And his praise of Viennese social housing seems to suggest that there’s something missing in the argument between those of us who believe relaxing regulatory barriers to construction is good and …