Housing Incentive Fund Is No "Scam" But It Is Bad Policy


I have a column in theĀ Grand Forks Herald today about the Housing Incentive Fund which state lawmaker and NDGOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Becker recently called a “scam.”

I don’t think it’s at all fair for Becker to call the fund a scam. As I write in the column, “Becker is being unfair in calling the program a scam, and if he hopes to make good on the longshot odds he’s facing to become governor, he’s going to have to learn to use words more cautiously.” Plus, two members of Becker’s campaign leadership team – Rep. Scott Louser and Senator Joe Miller – voted for the legislation which renewed the “scam” for the 2015-2017 biennium.

That said, the fund was and is bad policy and I hope whoever the next governor is doesn’t include it in their executive budget:

Now that the Oil Boom has come and gone, one major problem that Oil Patch communities are facing is the very real threat of a landscape dotted with empty apartment buildings and housing developments.

At least in the short term until the inevitable oil rebound, these communities are overdeveloped when it comes to housing.

That may have been unavoidable. I don’t think any community could absorb the sort of population explosion many western communities did without facing the possibility of a housing bubble. Some Oil Patch communities saw their populations double and even triple during the boom years.

But subsidies for development blunt the market forces that help dictate an equilibrium between supply and demand. Such subsidies make it hard for suppliers to see the cliff’s edge of demand before they go sailing over it.

Read the whole thing.