Marion Barry Proposes Apartment Building Ban

I had of course heard the Legend of Marion Barry before moving to Washington, DC, but something that’s been striking to observe since his return to the city council is the almost shockingly poor quality of his policy thinking, completely apart from any concerns about corruption or the like. For example, Lydia DePillis writes up his latest bill, which would ban the construction of new rental apartments in his ward.

This will, he thinks, encourage homeownership:

“The American dream is to own a home. And black people have not gotten the American dream as much as they need to,” Barry says. “Somebody can rent for 20 years, and has no equity in their unit at all.”

“I’ve thought about this,” Barry finished. “It’s not a kneejerk reaction.”

Not only is this a flawed strategy for promoting economic well-being among African-Americans, but the policy he has in mind clearly won’t accomplish the goal. There’s just no way that zoning policy in Ward 8 of Washington, DC could possibly influence black people’s ability to own homes. It doesn’t make any sense, at all. Banning apartment buildings will reduce the supply of affordable housing and reduce construction jobs. That’s it.