Headline RoundupApril 18th, 2023

New Construction Favors Single-family Homes as States Move To Allow More Multifamily Housing

Summary from AllSides News Team

A decline in multifamily housing construction offset a rise in single-family homes in March, leading to an overall slowdown in housing construction.

The Details: According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts — when construction begins on a project — fell 0.8% from February and 17.2% from 12 months prior. While single-family housing starts rose 2.7% from February, multifamily housing starts fell 5.9%. New single-family building permits rose 4.1% from February, but a drop in multifamily permits led to an overall 8.8% decline in permits. 

For Context: The news comes as some states are trying to remove policy roadblocks against denser multifamily housing, which advocates say will lower housing costs by raising supply. The issue often cuts across traditional party lines — in late March, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill requiring local governments to allow more multifamily housing, aligning with Democrat-led states like Washington, which is considering banning single-family zoning, and California, which effectively banned it in 2021. 

How the Media Covered It: Because there were conflicting trends, reports often conflicted with one another. While Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) highlighted the overall construction decline as potential evidence of a coming recession, Bloomberg (Lean Left bias) and MarketWatch (Center bias) attributed it to multifamily housing specifically. While Fox Business (Lean Right bias) noted a decline in overall building permits, Reuters (Center bias) noted a “surge” in single-family building permits as evidence of a stabilizing market. 

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