Inclusionary zoning—programs that encourage the creation of affordable housing units when new development occurs via developer incentives and zoning bonuses—first emerged outside of Washington, D.C. and San Francisco in the mid-’70s. But since 2000, the use of these tools to build more inclusive communities has skyrocketed.
The rapid expansion led researchers Emily Thaden and Ruoniu Wang of the advocacy group Grounded Solutions to attempt to get their arms around how inclusionary zoning is and isn’t working in this country; how it’s being set up, differences among local, state, and federal programs, and trends that may help show where such programs are headed in the future, and how to make them more efficient.
According to their new study, Inclusionary Housing in the United States: Prevalence, Impact, and Practices, released by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, these policies have rapidly spread across the United States in recent years. Roughly 70 percent of such programs have been adopted since 2000, including 72 in the last six years, with more than a dozen under consideration. In the most comprehensive study of its kind, Thaden and Wang identified approximately 886 jurisdictions in 25 states that have policies in place responsible for nearly 200,000 affordable housing units and $2 billion in fees (both are likely underestimates due to missing data at the local level).