Construction in downtown Houston in April 2017.
Nancy Sarnoff / Houston Chronicle Construction in downtown Houston in April 2017.

The last time Houston attempted to address its growing housing affordability issue was in 2004, when a group of experts from the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects provided several prescriptions for easing the problem. However, most of those solutions were ignored, and Houston's affordability crisis has risen.

Now, as Houston Chronicle reporter Lydia DePillis points out, experts are re-examining the laissez-faire style policies that have larger brought Houston to this point.

Historically, Houston's comfort zone hasn't been very large. The government's relatively hands-off approach to development has been seen as a plus for affordability, and there's some truth to that view. Conservatives and liberal economists alike think building restrictions are a big barrier to growth; former President Barack Obama's administration asked for $300 million to help cities relax their zoning codes.

But that free-market system also won't provide enough housing to satisfy all types of need without additional investment. A report last month from Rice University's Kinder Institute illustrates how redevelopment in close-in neighborhoods has made them increasingly unaffordable to less-affluent residents. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition

, Houston now has the third-lowest number of rental units affordable to very low-income residents out of all metro areas in the country.

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