Inclusionary Zoning: The Good and the Bad

New research shows that affordable housing mandates usually don't raise housing costs, but often fail to benefit benefit the lowest-income families.

Read Time: 1 minute

June 10, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden

San Francisco Construction

Mark Schwettmann / Shutterstock

Research from the National Housing Conference's Center for Housing Policy clarifies the impacts of inclusionary zoning policies, which require developers to include some affordable units in their buildings. Brentin Mock from CityLab summarizes the major findings.

The good: In most cases, inclusionary zoning requirements haven't driven housing costs up. Nor have they slowed housing production. Those findings challenge the argument of some developers who oppose affordable-housing mandates, especially in California.

The bad: Inclusionary zoning policies have largely failed to create affordable housing for the lowest-income households—and most policies aren't designed to target them. That can lead to a lack of support for programs:

After all, if it’s going to be called “inclusionary zoning,” it should include those who are most in need of housing. People actually need to be able to buy into the properties in order to buy in to the policy.

Pittsburgh is considering ways to address this problem, which Washington, D.C. also dealt with recently. San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and more cities throughout the United States have also recently taken up questions around inclusionary zoning.

The research also notes that the success of these policies is influenced by factors that can vary by city and over time, like the strength of an area’s housing market or a policy's compatibility with state law.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 in CityLab

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Walkable, mixed-use neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain

Conspiracy Theorists Discover the 15-Minute City

USA Today debunks the false claim that the United Nations’ call for enabling 15-minute cities is a coded plan to institute ‘climate change lockdowns.’

48 minutes ago - USA Today

Arizona Canal

HUD Grants Total $315 Million for Continuum of Care for the Unhoused

An unprecedented federal grant program, announced earlier this month, will support continuum of care for the unhoused in unsheltered and rural settings.

1 hour ago - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Covered pergolas for outdoor dining line the curb on Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Historic District Could Remove Street Dining

Despite the popularity of Ballard Avenue’s outdoor dining pergolas, some district board members argue the patios don’t match the district’s historic character.

February 7 - The Urbanist

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.