Hurricanes and the Effect on the Houston EconomyWe Houstonians will always be proud of our response following the twin disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We rose to the challenge as a caring community and not as the impersonal mega-metropolis that our size might indicate.

Houston’s housing market easily absorbed the 240,000 people who were displaced by the storms.  An intriguing article on Forbes.com attributes out ability to house theses evacuees to our lack of zoning.

Marc Scribner said, “Thanks to the city’s liberal land-use policies, Houston enjoys lower real estate prices, increased availability of affordable housing, lower population concentration and more opportunities for entrepreneurs.  If not for these conditions, displaced Gulf Coast residents would have faced even tougher–and likely more deadly–challenges following the disaster.

“Zoning laws had put up artificial roadblocks to the construction of affordable rental units during the preceding decades in communities along the Gulf Coast.  This made homelessness even worse for low- to moderate-income residents after Katrina and Rita made landfall.

“In Louisiana and Mississippi, emergency temporary housing was zoned out of many of the worst-hit areas…”

He concludes, “A laissez-fair attitude toward land use is justified not only economically, but on humanitarian grounds as well.”

To read the full article, click here.

This is an interesting notion…. that Houston's lack of zoning lead to plenty of affordable housing choices, giving Houston the ability to house people displaced by the recent hurricanes.  And that influx of residents, in turn, gave Houston's housing market a boost.

Way to go Houston!

Roger Martin