Pro-Growth Ethos Mediated by Race: No YIMBY, No Zoning and the Housing Crisis in Houston


YIMBY proponents typically demand deregulating zoning to allow for increasing housing density through pro-development market-oriented means. Their insistence is guided by the assumption that an increase in housing supply will result in lower housing prices and, subsequently, more affordable housing units. We contend that even without zoning, market speculation in land, not housing supply, determines the future of affordable housing. Moreover, a pro-growth ethos that exists among elites, regardless of race or ethnicity, sustains land speculation and fuels the affordable-housing crisis. Using secondary sources to explore the impact of no zoning, as well as the dominant private-property paradigm and pro-growth ethos in Houston, Texas, the case of Acres Homes illuminates the nascent response for social control and ownership of land as a form of resistance to market-based development that displaces lower-income households and Black communities. Deregulating the market curtails equity and restrains the resistance necessary to bring about cultural and structural changes that will end the affordable housing crisis.