New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

2 minute read

June 10, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


Multistory apartment building under construction.

eunikas / Adobe Stock

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed into law a bill aimed at stimulating construction of affordable housing. According to an Nooga Today article by Kristen Templeton, local governments in the state are now able to offer no-cost incentives to builders of affordable housing developments:

  • Increased density allowance to allow more units to be built on a piece of land, which makes it possible to build lower-cost homes.
  • Lowered parking requirements, which can create savings up to $14,000 per home.
  • Priority permitting, which can reduce carrying costs for developers in the pre-development process. 

The incentive programs are voluntary and must align with PILOT reform and upcoming zoning reform. “Each municipality wishing to adopt the new framework will have to pass a local ordinance detailing the local incentives + [sic] process. Once adopted, developers and builders can opt in through a written notice of interest, and projects that meet the criteria will go through a review process for approval or denial by the Regional Planning Commission,” reports Templeton.

These types of no-cost incentives can be an easier pill for community stakeholders to swallow versus tax incentives and fees waivers, as they don’t directly cost local or state government revenue. But, according to InclusionaryHousing.org, “Even planning incentives such as density bonuses, which appear free, result in increased infrastructure and other public costs.” They add, “communities have to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of each incentive and evaluate them relative to the cost of meeting specific affordable housing requirements.”

Thursday, June 6, 2024 in Nooga Today

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

View of Palos Verdes Drive along Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes, California at sunset.

Erosion Threatens SoCal Road, Lloyd Wright Icon

The city of Palos Verdes is closing parts of a roadway to cyclists, citing safety concerns as the land underneath moves between 7 and 12 inches per week.

7 hours ago - Daily Breeze

Faded image of vacant storefront in rural area with American flag stars painteind on windows.

COVID Isn’t to Blame for the Retail Vacancy Crisis

A drop in demand for retail space began well before the seismic shifts of the pandemic.

June 23 - Slate

Heavy New York City traffic headed toward Holland Tunnel in Manhattan.

Judge Rules in Favor of MTA in Congestion Pricing Suit

Advocates of the program are calling on Gov. Hochul to reinstate the program in light of the decision.

June 23 - StreetsBlog NYC

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

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.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.