This can't be said too often, as loudly as we can. Here's urban geographer Wendell Cox reviewing some research, Paying for Dirt, by Issi Romen at housebuilding specialist, Buildzoom:
"Stemming sprawl" while maintaining housing affordability through higher densities is a time-worn theory. The record seems to indicate that it is more likely Santa will come down the chimney than density will solve the problem. There are no virtually examples of housing markets (metropolitan areas) where increasing densities has restored affordability. This is not to suggest there is no value to increased density, but rather that it is an all too convenient diversion from solutions that have a chance of working.The key to all this is, as Cox points out:
...to restore the competitive market for land, so that houses on comparatively small lots, such as one-quarter or one-fifth of an acre can be built at the historic land costs (including necessary infrastructure).And as Romen concludes this isn't just about the economics of housing but about social justice:
"The disparity between the appearance of homes and their price tags is more than a home buyer’s gripe: it is a telltale indication of restricted housing supply. Such restrictions – rules governing land use, installed by incumbent residents or their predecessors – are exclusionary by nature and amount to the gating of access to opportunity. Hopefully, this study has helped identify where gates must be opened."