Inclusionary zoning seeks to increase the supply of affordable housing in market-rate development projects through the use of either voluntary incentives or mandatory requirements.
More than 200 municipalities across the country have some form of an inclusionary zoning or inclusionary housing ordinance. This zoning trend can take the form of a required set-aside of affordable units within a development project, or the payment of a fee into a city-administered fund that is used to support the development of affordable housing. Many of these ordinances are voluntary and use incentives, such as density bonuses or streamlined permit review, which reward a developer for including affordable units within a market-rate project.
Some of the different approaches or themes you will find in reviewing inclusionary zoning ordinances are:
- Whether the program is mandatory or voluntary
- Whether affordable units are built within the project, or whether a payment is made to an affordable housing fund, or whether both options exist
- Differences in the definition of "affordable"
- Differences in what type of development projects trigger the provisions
- Differences in the scale of development projects that trigger the provisions
Unlike some of the other zoning trends and themes, there is a spirited debate around inclusionary zoning ordinances. Proponents of these measures point to the need to provide more affordable housing and the importance of encouraging mixed-income communities. Opponents argue that these measures interfere with the free market place of supply and demand; and, that the requirements may actually deter development.
Here are some links to help you learn more about Inclusionary Zoning and the different opinions: