Although currently neither politically nor fiscally feasible, the notion that access to inexpensive, presumably high-quality housing should be a government-guaranteed universal right would be a terrible idea even if it were popular and affordable. The proposition fails on three counts. It isn't necessary. It doesn't make economic sense. And, most compelling, were such a policy to be implemented, its putative beneficiaries would not thank us. Even if we should not promulgate ''a right to decent, affordable housing,'' we want to assure that all Americans have access to decent, affordable housing. Happily, we can count on the private housing market (coupled with rising prosperity) to serve 95 percent of the country's households. Serving the remaining 5 percent requires concerted measures to scale back onerous housing regulations that prevent the private housing sector from meeting the needs of lower- income and untypical households.