Inclusionary zoning & housing policies

Inclusionary zoning (IZ) & housing policies require developers to reserve a portion of housing units for low income residents, often with restrictions on resales that specify purchase by low or moderate income households. Inclusionary zoning & housing policies may be based on mandatory requirements or development incentives, such as density bonuses, expedited permits and approvals, relaxed design standards, or fee waivers or reductions. Units created via IZ are available to homeowners and renters and are typically part of multifamily developments (, , Gibbons 2015, ).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased access to affordable housing

  • Increased access to quality housing

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased neighborhood socio-economic diversity

  • Increased asset accumulation

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that inclusionary zoning (IZ) & housing policies increase access to and production of quality, affordable housing for low and moderate income households, especially in urban areas with strong housing demand (, US HUD-Levy 2012, , ). Available evidence from case studies and IZ policy analysis suggests such policies may increase the supply of quality, affordable housing available to rent and to purchase for low and moderate income households (, Thaden 2017, , Brookings-Brown 2001), and ensure long-term affordability of housing stock (, Thaden 2017, RAND-Schwartz 2012). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (Urban-Ramakrishnan 2019, Sturtevant 2016, ).

IZ policies appear most effective with incentives for developer participation (, , ) and when implemented as part of a multi-component affordable housing strategy (). Mandatory IZ policies are more effective than voluntary policies (, von Hoffman 2006); however, most states with mandatory policies do not currently have tools to support policy enforcement ().

The amount of affordable housing produced by IZ policies varies with how long the policy has been in place (Schuetz 2011), whether it offers density bonuses or other incentives, and the types of projects eligible for consideration (). IZ policy design features such as long-term affordability requirements influence the magnitude of the effect IZ policies can have on the supply of affordable housing and the reduction of concentrated poverty (RAND-Schwartz 2012). Some IZ policies may include homes for purchase, offering families with low incomes the opportunity to build wealth through homeownership (Urban-Ramakrishnan 2019, ). In larger cities with high cost housing markets such as Boston, San Francisco, and New York City, IZ policies may be associated with increased housing costs and lower production (Urban-Ramakrishnan 2019, Furman Center-Madar 2015).

Cities with IZ policies appear to have a larger proportion of multifamily housing units, higher prices for single family units, and smaller single family houses than cities without IZ policies (, Bento 2009). IZ policies may also minimize adverse effects of gentrification (US HUD-Levy 2012, CDC-Gentrification, SCANPH 2005), such as displacement of families with low incomes (Damewood 2011). Neighborhoods with IZ units appear to be more racially and socio-economically diverse than neighborhoods without IZ homes (Urban-Ramakrishnan 2019). IZ policies that provide incentives for developers to include public spaces in their plans (e.g., plazas or walkways) may increase access to privately owned public space and increase mixed-use development (). IZ policies do not appear to change the number of housing projects started (Bento 2009, SCANPH 2005).

To retain affordable housing units over time, IZ policies restrict resale amounts which, in turn, limits tax revenue potential () and sale proceeds for those units (Gibbons 2015, Dulchin 2013). Additional evidence is needed to determine the effect of IZ policies on the cost of residential development overall ().

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

As of late 2016, there are 866 jurisdictions with inclusionary zoning (IZ) & housing policies across 25 states and Washington DC; most policies are in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California (AIC-IZ, Thaden 2017) and the majority of policies are mandatory (Stromberg 2016). New Jersey, Maryland, and Oregon have state mandated policies and Massachusetts has both a mandatory and a voluntary, incentive-based policy ().

Many cities have local IZ policies. As of 2019, Boston, MA; San Diego and San Francisco, CA; and Washington DC have mandatory inclusionary zoning policies (Boston-IZ, San Diego-IZ, San Francisco-IZ, DC-IZ). IZ is used throughout all five boroughs of NYC; the number of affordable units varies by targeted income, location, and if the affordable units must be in the same building as the market-rate units or located off-site (Furman Center-NYC housing). Burlington, VT has a mandatory policy, which is administered by the Champlain Housing Trust, a community land trust (Burlington-IZ, CHT-VT). Chicago’s IZ policy allows developers to pay fees rather than build affordable housing; revenue is then added to the City of Chicago Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund to build or rehabilitate affordable housing, or to the city supported rental assistance program (US HUD-Evidence matters IZ 2013).

Implementation Resources

IHI - Innovative Housing Institute (IHI). Inclusionary housing.

MA EEA-IZ - Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (MA EEA). Smart growth/smart energy toolkit: Inclusionary zoning.

ChangeLab-Housing toolkit - ChangeLab Solutions. Preserving, protecting, and expanding affordable housing: A policy toolkit for public health. 2015.

ULI Building healthy places - Urban Land Institute (ULI) Building Healthy Places Initiative. Building healthy places toolkit: Strategies for enhancing health in the built environment.

LISC-Affordable housing - Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Helping neighbors build communities: Affordable housing.

LHS - Local Housing Solutions (LHS). To enhance local affordability and foster inclusive communities. New York University, Furman Center and Abt Associates, Inc.

Furman Center-Affordable housing - Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Research area: Affordable & subsidized housing. New York University, Furman Center.

Furman Center-Land use - Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Research area: Land use. New York University, Furman Center.

AIC-IZ - All-In Cities, an Initiative of PolicyLink. Inclusionary zoning.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Brookings-Brown 2001 - Brown, KD. Expanding affordable housing through inclusionary zoning: Lessons from the Washington metropolitan area. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution; 2001: Discussion Paper.

Bento 2009 - Bento A, Lowe S, Knapp GJ, Chakraborty A. Housing market effects of inclusionary zoning. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. 2009;11(2):7–26.

Read 2009* - Read DC. The structure and potential economic effects of inclusionary zoning ordinances. Real Estate Issues. 2009;34(2):1–9.

Mukhija 2010* - Mukhija V, Regus L, Slovin S, Das A. Can inclusionary zoning be an effective and efficient housing policy? Evidence from Los Angeles and Orange counties. Journal of Urban Affairs. 2010;32(2):229–52.

Schuetz 2009* - Schuetz J, Meltzer R, Been V. 31 Flavors of inclusionary zoning: Comparing policies from San Francisco, Washington, DC, and suburban Boston. Journal of the American Planning Association. 2009;75(4):441–56.

von Hoffman 2006 - von Hoffman A, Belsky ES, Lee K. The impact of housing on community: A review of scholarly theories and empirical research. Cambridge: Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS), Harvard University; 2006:W06–1

RAND-Schwartz 2012 - Schwartz HL, Ecola L, Leuschner KJ, Kofner A. Is inclusionary zoning inclusionary? A guide for practitioners. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation; 2012: Technical Report 1231.

Schuetz 2011 - Schuetz J, Meltzer R, Been V. Silver bullet or trojan horse? The effects of inclusionary zoning on local housing markets in the United States. Urban Studies. 2010;48(2):297–329.

CDC-Gentrification - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health effects of gentrification.

SCANPH 2005 - Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH). How does inclusionary housing work? A profile of seven southern California cities. Los Angeles: Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH); 2005.

US HUD-Levy 2012 - Levy DK, Franks K, Bertumen K, et al. Expanding housing opportunities through inclusionary zoning: Lessons from two counties. Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Policy Development and Research and Urban Institute; 2012.

Mukhija 2015* - Mukhija V, Das A, Regus L, Tsay SS. The tradeoffs of inclusionary zoning: What do we know and what do we need to know? Planning Practice & Research. 2015;30(2):222-235.

Gibbons 2015 - Gibbons LK. Considering the cost of inclusionary zoning and resale restrictions in the District of Columbia. Policy Perspectives. 2015;22:1-8.

Karki 2015* - Karki TK. Mandatory versus incentive-based state zoning reform policies for affordable housing in the United States: A comparative assessment. Housing Policy Debate. 2015;25(2):234-262.

Yoon 2015* - Yoon H, Srinivasan S. Are they well situated? Spatial analysis of privately owned public space, Manhattan, New York City. Urban Affairs Review. 2015;51(3):358-380.

Dulchin 2013 - Dulchin B, Gates M, Williams B. Housing policy for a strong and equitable city. Toward a 21st Century City for All. Center for Urban Research, The Graduate Center at City University of New York; 2013.

Damewood 2011 - Damewood R, Young-Laing B. Strategies to prevent displacement of residents and businesses in Pittsburgh's Hill District. September 2011.

Furman Center-Madar 2015 - Madar J. Creating affordable housing out of thin air: The economics of mandatory inclusionary zoning in New York City. Housing for an inclusive New York: Affordable housing strategies for a high-cost city. New York University, Furman Center; 2015.

Urban-Ramakrishnan 2019 - Ramakrishnan K, Treskon M, Greene S. Inclusionary zoning: Wwhat does the research tell us about the effectiveness of local action?. Washington, DC: Urban Institute; 2019.

Thaden 2017 - Thaden E, Wang R. Inclusionary housing in the United States: Prevalence, impact, and practices. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; 2017.

Dawkins 2017* - Dawkins C, Jeon JS, Knaap GJ. Creating and preserving affordable homeownership opportunities: Does inclusionary zoning make sense? Journal of Planning Education and Research. 2017;37(4):444-456.

Sturtevant 2016 - Sturtevant L. Separating fact from fiction to design effective inclusionary housing programs. Inclusionary housing: A series of research & policy briefs. Washington, DC: National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy; 2016.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CHT-VT - Champlain Housing Trust (CHT). Northwestern Vermont-based community land trust (CLT).

Karki 2015* - Karki TK. Mandatory versus incentive-based state zoning reform policies for affordable housing in the United States: A comparative assessment. Housing Policy Debate. 2015;25(2):234-262.

Burlington-IZ - City of Burlington, VT. Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) program.

DC-IZ - Washington DC Department of Housing and Community Development. Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) Affordable Housing Program.

US HUD-Evidence matters IZ 2013 - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Evidence Matters: Inclusionary zoning (IZ) and mixed-income communities. 2013.

Thaden 2017 - Thaden E, Wang R. Inclusionary housing in the United States: Prevalence, impact, and practices. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; 2017.

Stromberg 2016 - Stromberg B, Sturtevant L. What makes inclusionary zoning happen? Inclusionary housing: A series of research & policy briefs. Washington, DC: National Housing Conference; 2016.

Furman Center-NYC housing - Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. State of New York City’s subsidized housing in 2017. New York University, Furman Center; 2018.

AIC-IZ - All-In Cities, an Initiative of PolicyLink. Inclusionary zoning.

Boston-IZ - City of Boston. Inclusionary development policy: 2019 update.

San Diego-IZ - City of San Diego. Inclusionary housing.

San Francisco-IZ - San Francisco Planning. Inclusionary affordable housing program.

Date Last Updated

Aug 14, 2019