Despite the powerful impact of local land use and zoning policies on housing costs and supply, many U.S. mayors believe they have little control over homelessness in their cities.
“According to a report released in December by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), nearly 600,000 Americans were homeless at this time last year,” writes Carl Smith for Governing. But according to the 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors, “only 1 in 5 mayors felt they had more than ‘moderate’ control over homelessness in their cities,” and almost seven out of 10 did not see zoning as a significant barrier to reducing homelessness.
As Smith points out, “Improving social services won’t be enough if housing is in short supply, or too expensive,” but only 30 percent of homelessness plans from the nation’s 100 largest cities mention zoning and land use. Yet “It’s important to recognize that one of the basic reasons people don’t have housing is because the housing is not being built in the first place, says architect and attorney Sara Bronin.”
Bronin points out that “Although restrictions on housing density have a well-recognized impact on housing development, code requirements regarding such things as lot size, parking spaces, building height or public hearings can also present barriers.”
Resource-strapped mayors can now look to federal “Yes In My Backyard” grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to advance zoning reform. The grant program was allocated $85 million in the 2022 omnibus spending bill.
Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes
The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.
LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’
A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.
LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water
The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.
Micromobility Operators Call for Better Links to Transit
For shared mobility to succeed, systems must tap into the connectivity and funding potential offered by closer collaboration with public transit.
Retaining Transit Workers Is About More Than Wages
An analysis of California transit employees found a high rate of burnout among operators who face unpredictable work schedules, high housing costs, and occasional violence.
California's Stormwater Potential
A new study reveals that if California could collect and treat more stormwater in cities, it could provide enough water to supply a quarter of the state’s urban population.
Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
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.