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Inclusionary Zoning Proposed for Buffalo—Will it Help or Hurt the Housing Market?

Buffalo is considering policies to support affordable rental housing as demand rises. While inclusionary zoning is controversial everywhere, specific questions about the policy's effectiveness arise in cities with little to no population growth.
June 20, 2017, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"While $2,000-a-month apartments with granite countertops, high ceilings and in-building gymnasiums attract millennials to downtown Buffalo, demand for government-subsidized, low-income rental housing also seems to be growing," writes Susan Schulman.

The headline focuses on what Schulman describes as "the other side of Buffalo's rental housing boom." The trend is visible after a series of large low-income have come online in the city and been immediately occupied by renters. As for why there's new demand for low-income rental housing, Schulman writes: " One reason is that Buffalo’s low-income population has inched up in recent years, census data shows. Plus rents are increasing, often beyond inflation, sometimes reflecting rising real estate values when buildings are sold," and "[t]he result is that more lower-income people in Buffalo – which has a $31,918 median household income – are being priced out of market-rate housing, increasing demand for government-subsidized."

In the face of the growing pressure, local politicians are considering inclusionary zoning. "The Buffalo Common Council seems eager to enact such a law, while Mayor Byron W. Brown appears to be seeking middle ground," reports Schulman. The article includes a thorough discussion of whether inclusionary zoning works in cities where the population is relatively flat and rents are rising at a relatively low rate. Other "Rust Belt" cities, like Detroit and Pittsburgh," are also considering inclusionary zoning, writes Schulman.

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Published on Monday, June 19, 2017 in The Buffalo News
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