Rent Too Damn High? Joe Biden’s Mass Immigration Agenda Isn’t Helping
Wringing his hands over higher home and rental prices, President Joe Biden last year unveiled “the most comprehensive all-of-government effort to close the housing supply shortfall in history.” Another case of a politician creating a problem and then announcing sweeping (read: costly) plans to “fix” it.
Biden should take some time off from his Rube Goldberg-esque scheming and ponder the ill effects of his mass immigration agenda.
The president’s “Housing Supply Action Plan” – price tag unknown – aims to “deploy new financing mechanisms” and expand existing programs “to ease the burden of housing costs.” Additionally, the White House says it “continues to urge Congress to pass investments in housing production.”
All this is happening as the Biden administration oversees historic waves of legal and especially illegal immigration to America.
Myopic media outlets, blinkered academics and craven politicians don’t connect the dots, but the annual influx of millions of immigrants is clearly inflating the demand in an already overheated market for housing and increasing costs commensurately.
According to an analysis not mentioned by the president:
- An increase in the number of immigrants equal to 1 percent of a metropolitan area’s total population was linked with a 0.8 percent increase in rents and a 0.8 percent increase in home prices.
- This same increase in immigrants was associated with a 1.6 percent rise in rents, and a 9.6 percent rise in home prices in surrounding metro regions – the effect of more people fleeing congested, immigrant-heavy urban centers.
Apologists for the immigration lobby blame zoning laws, local officials and every other conceivable scapegoat. Yet these factors, while significant, do not tell the whole story. Cities such as Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta and Charlotte have lax, even non-existent, zoning regulations but residential costs are surging in those cities, in part because of historically large arrivals of immigrants.
In Canada, a country with proportionately high levels of legal immigration, the nexus of mass immigration and housing unaffordability is getting a more honest assessment.
“Even with relaxed zoning policies, it’s very hard for the construction sector to respond to a rapid surge in demand for housing,” says John Pasalis, president of a Toronto-based real estate brokerage.
In both the U.S. and Canada, Pasalis reports that liberal immigration policies “are driving up costs for renters who typically have much lower household incomes than homeowners. And unlike homeowners, they don’t benefit financially from the rising cost of housing.”
Is Pasalis suggesting that immigration policies are solely responsible for inflation-topping increases in the cost of housing? No, he says, “But of the most common explanations – from investor binges to the irrational exuberance of buyers – immigration has the most direct impact.”
Certainly, the cost of housing is a complex and multifaceted issue. Though it may not be a primary driver in every market, immigration is an exacerbating factor – and the most controllable one.
But Democrats in Washington can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge that their mass immigration agenda is worsening a serious housing problem. Sooner or later, economic realities will demand a fair appraisal of the supply-demand imbalance. Meantime, Biden’s tidal wave at the southern border isn’t lifting all boats; it’s helping to swamp the lower-income, working-class Americans he claims to represent.