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September 2008 - Inclusionary Zoning

Photo Credit: Mark Ballogg, courtesy of Landon Bone Baker

In the Toolbox

This issue of In Focus highlights inclusionary zoning policies, which local jurisdictions adopt to increase the supply of affordable homes available throughout a community. This tool works by linking the production of affordable homes to the development of market-rate units: developers are required or offered incentives to set aside a modest share of new homes for low- or moderate-income families. Typically the affordable units must be integrated throughout the development and indistinguishable from market-rate homes, giving all families an opportunity to live in diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods.

As gas prices have increased, the demand for housing located in proximity to public transit has grown as well. Without steps to ensure affordability, these units can quickly become priced out of reach of low-income households – those who most rely on public transportation. Inclusionary zoning policies can be used to reserve a place for working families and others in new transit-oriented developments and in other compact, mixed-use neighborhoods that offer access to jobs and other amenities without requiring use of a personal vehicle, making inclusionary zoning one of Six Housing Policies for a World of High Energy Costs.

Learn More About Inclusionary Zoning

"Out Loud" Podcast's monthly Out Loud podcast series focuses on noteworthy housing policy solutions being implemented at the state and local levels. In this month's podcast we hear from Vicki Been, Director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. She is also one of the authors of The Effects of Inclusionary Zoning on Local Housing Markets: Lessons from the San Francisco, Washington DC and Suburban Boston areas, a report prepared by the Furman Center for the Center for Housing Policy on the effects of inclusionary zoning in three housing markets. Dr. Been discusses the findings from this report and implications for communities interested in adopting their own inclusionary policies.

Listen To The Podcast

Solutions in Action

Rhode Island’s Low and Moderate Income Housing Act requires local jurisdictions to submit plans describing how they will achieve the state’s “fair share” goal of making ten percent of homes in all communities affordable to working families. More than one-quarter of projected new units in the town of North Kingstown would have to be affordable to meet this goal by 2013, and planners have responded with an array of initiatives, including a mandatory inclusionary zoning policy that offers developers density bonuses of up to 50 percent when they include affordable homes in new development.

Visit to learn more about inclusionary zoning and to read a full case study of North Kingstown’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, excerpted from a guide to state and local housing affordability solutions prepared by prepared by Abt Associates for a National Association of Home Builders.

Learn More About This Solution

What's Your Story?

The October issue of In Focus will focus on transit-oriented development, an approach to higher density development that focuses residential and other development around public transit hubs. Affordable housing within transit-oriented development provides working families and others with low-cost options for getting from home to the workplace – an outcome that is especially important in an era of high gasoline prices. Transit-oriented development can improve overall affordability by reducing household transportation costs, improve job retention and stability by making it easier and cheaper to get to work, and reduce pressures for families to relocate to the periphery of metropolitan areas, thereby decreasing sprawl and traffic congestion.

Do you have any examples of transit-oriented developments that include affordable housing? Has your community implemented housing policies to ensure the preservation of affordable homes near transit? What barriers did your community overcome to make transit-oriented development possible?

Share Your Story!


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New Housing Blog

The National Housing Conference (NHC) recently launched its Open House blog focused on expanding the national conversation about how best to meet the need for decent, affordable housing. The first topic discussed on the blog is foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization, with practitioners and national experts discussing innovative policies for preventing foreclosures and addressing neighborhood impacts of concentrated foreclosures. Every four to six weeks, the blog postings on Open House will switch to focus on a new current and critical issue facing the affordable housing community. The next topic will be the implications for affordable housing of the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Visit The Open House Blog Today And Sign Up To Receive Regular Postings!

Featured Gallery Entry:

Poinsettia Station, Carlsbad, CA

Photo courtesy of BRIDGE Housing


August 2008 -- In Focus: Rental Housing Preservation
July 2008-- In Focus: Shared Equity Homeownership
June 2008 -- In Focus: Green Affordable Housing -- This issue of In Focus kicked off a series of Six Housing Policies for a World of High Energy Costs
May 2008 -- In Focus: Foreclosure Prevention
April 2008 -- In Focus: Employer-Assisted Housing
February 2008
-- was launched in January 2008 as part of Housing Solutions Week. Click here to view materials from the week.