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.

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

Soldier Field

Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject

Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.

October 19, 2021 - Chicago Tribune

Boston

Boston Introduces 'Maximum Parking Ratios' for Large Buildings

Large buildings with uses of all kinds will be subject to Boston's new "Maximum Parking Ratios."

October 14, 2021 - Streetsblog Mass

A person in a bright green vest with the words "Covid Marshall" patrols a street fair in Australia.

5 Tips for Planning Safe Post-Pandemic Events

As community events start move off-screen and become available to the public again, here are five ways organizers can ensure public health and safety.

October 13, 2021 - Devin Partida

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.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.