Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Upzoning can create opportunities for affordable housing

by Robert Hickey, National Housing Conference


Surging demand for urban living is providing cities and older suburbs with a new way to engage private developers in creating mixed-income communities. My new report, Inclusionary Upzoning,   explains how. 

As jurisdictions raise height limits, allow greater development intensity and permit housing in new areas of town, a growing number of places both big and small are asking developers that benefit from this new development potential to make a share of new housing affordable for low- and moderate-income households.  These policies are getting results. Inclusionary Upzoning profiles six places that are linking affordability to the rezoning process. Collectively, these policies have generated over 4,000 affordable homes since the early 2000s, with hundreds more on the way.

An especially promising feature of “inclusionary upzoning” is its potential for engaging market-rate developers in places where legal, political or market barriers have historically impeded the adoption of inclusionary housing.  Optional inclusionary housing policies that only apply when a neighborhood or property is upzoned can offer an alternate strategy for harnessing the energy of the housing market for affordability in states such as Oregon, Texas, Colorado and California, where legal restrictions prohibit certain mandatory inclusionary housing requirements. Similarly, localities wary of applying affordability requirements in unproven housing markets may find it helpful to limit such a policy to areas that will see new development potential as a result of a rezoning.

A webinar this Thurs., July 31 will delve deeper into the findings of the report.  I will be describing multiple examples of inclusionary upzoning in action – from New York City to Redmond, Wash. – and leading a discussion of where these policies may work best.  It’s not too late to register!  I hope you can join the conversation.

No comments: