Media Release – Planning That Leaves the Poor Out in the Cold: Smart Growth fails to combat poverty

Press Release, Poverty, Frontier Centre

Winnipeg, MB., 2 November 2011:   The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has released a report today entitled The Cost of Smart Growth: A 40 Year Perspective, which examines the effects of restrictive land use policies on housing affordability. These policies, otherwise known as “smart growth,” are used to mandate compact development, discourage automobile usage, and curb urban sprawl. But as the report's author Wendell Cox points out, these policies come with an enormous cost.

Drawing on numerous studies of land use policies across the US, Cox demonstrates that smart growth policies lead to substantially higher housing costs, which helped to fuel the housing bubble and subsequent mortgage market collapse. According to Cox, “more restrictive land use regulations have been present in every market where house prices rose substantially above the historic …norm, even during the housing bubble.” In fact, “no market without smart growth has ever reached these heights.”

Smart growth has been particularly harmful to low income families who cannot afford to purchase homes at inflated prices. In the most restrictive markets, the median housing cost peaked at between 5 and 11 times the median annual income. In the lesser restrictive markets, the range is generally 2 to 3 times the median income.

While smart growth's goal is to create more “liveable communities,” it serves to create cities that are affordable only to the wealthy. Home ownership is still a goal held dearly by most North Americans. Urban policy planners should seek to accommodate, rather than thwarting people's preferences.


A copy of  The Cost of Smart Growth: A 40 Year Perspective can be downloaded HERE.


For more information and to arrange an interview with the study's author, media (only) should contact:

Wendell Cox,  
618 632 8507



Wendell Cox, Senior Fellow, is principal of Wendell Cox Consultancy, an international public policy, demographics and transport consulting firm. He has developed a leadership role in urban transport and land use and the firm maintains three internet websites:, and . Wendell Cox has completed projects in Canada, the United States, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Africa. He is author of "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life" and a co-author with Richard Vedder of "The Wal-Mart Revolution: How Big-Box Stores Benefit Consumers, Workers, and the Economy." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission which oversaw highways and public transit in the largest county in the United States. He was also appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council. Wendell Cox is visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (a national university) in Paris.