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Obstacles to Regional Housing Solutions: A Comparison of Four Metropolitan Areas

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Studies of regionalism continue to appear in the scholarly literature. Research specifically on regional housing policies, however, appears far less frequently, most likely a reflection of the absence of regional housing initiatives in practice. Two leading explanations for the lack of regional housing solutions include: 1) intercity competition as asserted by public choice theorists; and 2) NIMBY attitudes expressed by community residents. This research uses a multiple case study design to examine the development of regionalism, and the status of regional housing efforts, in the Portland, Minneapolis‐St. Paul, Louisville, and New Orleans metropolitan areas. We examine the public choice and NIMBY explanations as well as other factors emerging from the research as obstacles to regional housing solutions. The results indicate that regionalism varies in degree across the four study areas. However, in all cases, regional housing solutions are either absent or ineffective. Our data do not strongly support the public choice hypothesis, but do provide evidence that NIMBY attitudes about race and growth are barriers to regional housing policies. Furthermore, context‐specific circumstances, such as population characteristics and health of the regional economy, result in dominance of economic development in approaches to regionalism. The article concludes with implications based on the findings.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of California, Irvine 2: University of New Orleans

Publication date: 2003-11-01

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