The policy is aimed at reducing the cost of building affordable housing and helping affordable housing developers to better compete on property acquisitions.
When the city of Cambridge passed its 100 Percent Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO) ordinance in October of 2020, supporters hoped it would "reduce affordable housing development costs by 10 to 15 percent per leasable square foot" and make it more possible to build affordable housing in the city. Andrew Gibbs analyzes the key provisions of the ordinance, which include a requirement that "at least 80 percent of rental dwellings (or 50 percent of for-sale dwelling units)" in a district " are dedicated to households making up to 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI)" as well as exemptions related to height and density limits, parking requirements, and lot coverage. "The AHO removes off-street parking requirements, unless needed to conform to other laws," eliminating the need to build costly parking, which costs $25,752 per surface parking space in the Boston metro area.
"The AHO gives property owners the 'as-of-right' ability to develop affordable housing in Cambridge," a measure designed to "reduce execution risks and give lenders more confidence to provide land acquisition and pre-construction loans." Though the exact potential impacts are hard to quantify, the new provisions "should help affordable developers make competitive offers for developable land in Cambridge" and, if the reduction in development costs holds true at 10 to 15 percent, "the effect of the AHO should be an equivalent increase in affordable housing units built each year." While the AHO will not entirely solve Cambridge's housing issues, "the AHO has the potential to add a material number of new affordable homes and set a new industry standard for cities using comprehensive zoning tools alleviate affordability burdens."
The Right to Mobility
As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.
Bend Eliminates Parking Minimums
The city is complying with an Oregon state mandate that some cities have challenged in court.
How Virginia Counties Use Zoning to Stifle Development
Some state legislators are proposing action at the state level as counties block development using zoning and development requirements even as housing prices rise sharply in the region.
Seattle Brings Free Transit to Public Housing
Linking transit programs to housing can lower administrative costs and streamline the process for riders.
Columbus Could Lower Downtown Speed Limits
The city council will vote on a proposal to lower speed limits to 25 miles per hour to improve safety and make downtown more walkable and welcoming to pedestrians.
Traffic Safety Bills Proposed in Washington’s State Legislature
As traffic fatalities continue to climb in Washington and around the country, three proposed state bills would prohibit some right turns on red, reduce the BAC limit for DUI arrests, and require more young drivers to take driver’s education courses.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Harvard GSD Executive Education
Harvard GSD Executive Education
Sonoma County Transportation Authority
City of Piedmont, CA
City of Morganton
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.