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Affordable Housing Resources

Table of Contents:
Data Revealing the Affordable Housing Crisis
Tools to Preserve Affordable Housing
Tools to Create New Affordable Housing:
         Inclusionary Zoning
How Condo Conversions Helped Create Today’s Affordable Housing Crisis
Achieving Racially and Economically Integrated Communities


Out of Reach 2018: The High Cost of Housing. This link takes you to the 29th annual edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report on the cost of housing. You can download the entire report here. The 2018 Housing Wage is $22.10 per hour (up from $19.35 in 2015) for a modest two-bedroom unit, and $17.90 per hour (up from $15.50 in 2015) for a modest one bedroom unit. “A full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 needs to work approximately 122 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, or approximately three full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the national average fair market rent. The same worker needs to work 99 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, or approximately two and a half full-time jobs, to afford a one-bedroom home at the national average fair market rent.” Their website —  http://nlihc.org/oor — includes interactive maps where you can find the “2018 Housing Wage” in your town or census tract.
A must read — not to be missed!

Millennial Housing Commission Report. This bipartisan 22–member commission appointed by Congress in December 2000, produced this 134–page report confirms that there is a serious growing shortage of affordable housing. “At the opening of the new millennium, the nation faces a widening gap between the demand for affordable housing and the supply of it.” Published May 2002.


“But unless the action and policies called for here are adopted and implemented within the next few years, America’s middle class faces an otherwise unavoidable housing disaster, the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression.” — Daniel Lauber, written testimony March 31, 1980.

Written and oral testimony to Congress by Planning/Communications’ President Daniel Lauber, AICP. explains how unbridled conversion of profitable and affordable rental housing to condominiums in the mid–1970s and early 1980s wiped out much of the nation’s affordable rental housing stock by increasing the cost of living in converted units an average of 60 to 100 percent, contributing to inflation in housing costs and leading to the growing affordable housing crisis of the past 40 years. Just about everything he warned would occur has happened. And once the rest of the housing industry adopted the practices of the condominium converters, that “unavoidable housing disaster” of which he spoke arrived in the past decade. Download the complete oral and written testimony presented to the U.S. House of Representatives on March 30-31 and April 1 1981 by clicking here. (Large 78 MB file)

Tools to Preserve

Low–equity cooperatives = Housing solutions. View or download the PDF file of this two–page call to revive the most successful housing program in U.S. history and viable component for solving the affordable housing crisis. Learn what low–equity cooperatives are and how they keep housing affordable in perpetuity without ongoing massive taxpayer subsidies.

Stemming the Tide: A Handbook on Preserving Subsidized Multifamily Housing by Emily Achtenberg (76 pages) starts by tracing the history of key federal housing subsidy programs and provides an overview of the subsidized housing preservation problem.  It addresses the two major threats to preservation: expiring use restrictions (or subsidized mortgage prepayments) and expiring subsidy contracts (Section 8 housing). Chapter Two outlines the tools that are currently available to preservation advocates under federal laws and programs. Chapter Three explores preservation tools and strategies developed by advocates and practitioners at the state and local level. Finally, Chapter Four explains how to research properties in order to build the foundation for a preservation strategy.

Right at Home: Local Support for Employer–Assisted Housing. This eight–page monograph provides strong evidence of the need for housing near jobs and its benefits. Published October 2003 by the Campaign for Sensible Growth.

Tools to Create

Note: Cities, counties, and states have been using inclusionary zoning since the early 1970s. The issues and questions on inclusionary zoning have largely been resolved during the past 45 years. Consequently, some of the resources available below were written years ago.

  Jurisdictions That Have Adopted Inclusionary Zoning

By the end of 2016, more than 880 cities and counties across the nation had established an inclusionary zoning program. These first two documents from the acclaimed nonpartisan are Lincoln Institute of Land Policy include its recent study of several hundred of these programs:
        Inclusionary Housing in the United States 2017 and its lengthy appendix with information on each of the jurisdictions studied

Here's the National Directory of Inclusionary Housing Programs  produced by the Center for Housing Policy. It includes basic information on 512 inclusionary housing programs in 487 jurisdictions located in 27 states and the District of Columbia as of July 2014.

  Facts on Inclusionary Zoning and How to Create Inclusionary Zoning Programs and Ordinances

Separate fact from fiction on effective inclusionary housing programs. I hate to use the phrase “fake news,” but the opposition to inclusionary zoning is based on one falsehood after another. This report sets the record straight.

Contrary to the real estate industry opponents of inclusionary zoning, inclusionary zoning does not increase the cost of housing for everybody else. Read why in straightfoward one–page summary.

American Planning Association Collection: This collection of short reports explaining inclusionary zoning from the American Planning Association includes a “model” inclusionary zoning ordinance that serves largely as a guide to the different issues that must be considered when writing an inclusionary zoning ordinance. Other reports include a 2018 update as well as older short reports that provide a good introduction to the concept of inclusionary zoning and what works.

California Sample Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance: Nick Renteria's 119–page “ordinance” is really a guide to writing an inclusionary zoning ordinance. It is not in the form of an ordinance. Instead it provides a thoughtful guide to the different elements that comprise a responsible inclusionary zoning ordinance.

BPI Collection: This collection of about 14 short reports from the legendary public interest law firm Business & Professional People in the Public Interest examines nearly all aspects of inclusionary zoning largely from a practical standpoint. Essential reading.

Increasing the Stock of Affordable Housing: The Value of Difference Strategies in a Growing Crisis. This 18–page study from the acclaimed Woodstock Institute in Chicago examines a panoply of approaches. Published February 2004.

Sacramento County Passes Strong Inclusionary Zoning

       One of the more aggressive inclusionary zoning laws in the country went into effect in December 2004 in Sacramento County, California. Developers must set aside 15 percent of all construction in unincorporated areas of the county for low–income residents. While the 15 percent figure is not unusually high for California, where 117 cities and counties had inclusionary zoning regulations as of 2004, the income guidelines are particularly strong in this case. Three percent of construction must be earmarked for the extremely low income, such as a family of three earning under $17,300 a year. The rest of the affordable units must be divided between very low–income families earning under $28,850 and low–income families earning less than $46,150. For projects of more than 20 units, developers must build the affordable units or give the county enough land to cover the obligation, but on smaller projects they can pay the county $10,000 per affordable unit rather than build it. (Sacramento Bee, 12/2/04)


Handbook on: Developing Inclusionary Zoning. If you want to start your inclusionary zoning education, start with this excellent handbook from the Rhode Island Department of Administration’s Statewide Planning Program. The first two chapters provide a brief explanation and introduction to inclusionary housing. Chapter three proffers excerpts from national, regional, and local case studies on establishing inclusionary zoning ordinances. Chapter four identifies the types of issues and provisions to consider when crafting an inclusionary zoning code. Chapter five walks readers through each section of an inclusionary zoning ordinance. Published November 2004.

Inclusionary Housing: Creating and Maintaining Equitable Communities — This 68–page guide from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy examines how governments can establish an inclusionary zoning program that fosters equitable communities. It includes a guide to designing inclusionary zoning policies, understanding the economics, building support, legal concerns, the challenges of economic integration, planning for successful implementation, and more.

Inclusionary Zoning: Ideas You Can Use From HUD’s Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse is a simple introduction to fundamental inclusionary zoning issues. This PDF file is a 41–page “slideshow” that does a good job of introducing readers to many of the issues that need to be considered when drafting an inclusionary zoning ordinance. The other resources on inclusionary zoning listed below will make more sense if you spend 10 minutes reading this document.

How do you keep affordable housing affordable over time? That’s the question addressed by the 2006 study Ensuring Continued Affordability in Homeownership Programs from the Institute for Local Government.

Inclusionary Zoning: A Viable Solution to the Affordable Housing Crisis? This 54–page report from the National Housing Conference finds that inclusionary zoning can play a key role in meeting the growing need for housing affordable to people of modest means. Published October 2000.

  Lessons Learned and Case Studies

Rethinking Local Affordable Housing Strategies: Lessons From 70 Years of Policy and Practice. This 138 page discussion paper from The Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy and The Urban Institute Foundation, finds that “past and current efforts to expand rental housing assistance, promote homeownership, and increase affordable housing through land use regulations have been uneven in their effectiveness in promoting stable families and healthy communities. The findings suggest guiding principles for local action, with important cautions to avoid pitfalls.” Published December 2003.

Inclusionary Zoning: Lessons Learned in Massachusetts. This 48–page in–depth study from the National Housing Conference examines different inclusionary zoning laws in Massachusetts. It finds that they must be mandatory to work and explains how to avoid a takings claim. It’s essential reading. Published 2002.

California Inclusionary Zoning Reader. This thorough 162–page tome comes from the Institute for Local Self Government , the nonprofit research arm of the League of California Cities. It defines “inclusionary zoning,” examines the pros and cons, addresses implementation and legal issues, and proffers a sample inclusionary zoning ordinance. It’s essential reading.

Inclusionary Zoning: The California Experience. View or download the PDF file of this 62–page study by the National Housing Conference. Published February 2004.

Expanding Housing Options Through Inclusionary Zoning. This nine–page monograph offers case studies of several inclusionary zoning  programs and includes a table comparing inclusionary zoning programs in Boston; Boulder, CO; Davis, CA; Fairfax County, VA; Irvine, CA; Longmont, CO; Montgomery County, MD; and Santa Fe, NM. Published June 2001 by the Campaign for Sensible Growth.

Inclusionary Zoning Ordinances Upheld

California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose (June 15, 2015)

On June 15, the Supreme Court of California unanimously upheld inclusionary zoning laws by ruling in favor of the City of San Jose's ordinance requiring
affordable homeownership development. The ruling affirms the appellate court's opinion that inclusionary zoning does not impose "exactions" upon developers' property in a manner that would violate either the federal or California takings clause.

“The California Supreme Court's ruling resolves the constitutionality of an ordinance established five years ago by the City of San Jose. The ordinance
requires all new residential developments of 20 or more owner-occupied units to sell 15% of the homes below market price. Developers can opt out of the 15% requirement by dedicating land elsewhere or by paying "in-lieu fees" to the city. The goal is to encourage income-integrated communities and expand opportunities for low income households. This approach to development is typically referred to as inclusionary zoning or inclusionary housing, and it is a common tool in California. More than 170 jurisdiction s in California have some type ofinclusionary zoning ordinance, and these policies have led to the production of approximately 30,000 new affordable homes.

“While this is a very positive ruling for inclusionary zoning in California, it is important to note that it only applies to ordinances on for-sale housing developments. Since 2009, California municipalities have suspended enforcement of their inclusionary zoning ordinances for rental housing development based on the Appellate Court ruling in Palmer/Sixth Street Properties v. City of Los Angeles. That ruling found inclusionary zoning ordinances for rental housing to be an illegal form of rent control. Advocates will now use this recent California Supreme Court affirmation of both the constitutionality of inclusionary zoning and the authority of local jurisdictions to adopt such ordinances through their “police power” to provide clarity and momentum for a legislative fix that would overturn Palmer and allow these ordinances to be enforced on rental housing as well. A previous legislative fix to the Palmer decision was passed by the California legislature in 2013, but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.” — from the National Low Income Housing Coalition's article at:  http://nlihc.org/article/field-california-supreme-court-upholds-inclusionary-housing

The decision is available at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S212072.PDF

Home Builders Association of Northern California v. City of Napa
Napa, California adopted an inclusionary housing ordinance that required 10 percent of all new housing units to be made affordable to low–income families. Developers can comply by dedicating land for such units or by developing affordable units on another site. They can also pay an in–lieu fee or, in some circumstances, seek an adjustment or waiver. Those who comply with the ordinance receive incentives such as faster permitting and a density bonus. The ordinance was developed through an extensive consensus–building process that included ample representation from the development community.

The Home Builders Association challenged the ordinance arguing, among other things, that the regulation failed to substantially advance a legitimate state interest. The First District Court of Appeal rejected the Home Builders’ claim. In language that will be useful in a variety of future disputes, the court found that the underlying purpose of the ordinance substantially furthered a very important state interest: providing affordable housing. The court also declined to apply the Nollan/Dolan heightened scrutiny standard because the requirement was adopted legislatively. Moreover, the court ruled that the developer’s facial challenge must fail because the ordinance allows a developer to apply for a complete waiver of the ordinance’s requirements.


  Achieving Racially and Economically Integrated Communities

Black, White and Shades of Brown: Fair Housing and Economic Opportunity in the Chicago Region. This classic 1998 study by the now–defunct Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities reveals the racial and Hispanic composition of Chicago–area cities and towns in a free housing market absent discrimination. It is a seminal work and offered here because it is so hard to find online.

Ending American Apartheid: How Cities Achieve and Maintain Racial Diversity.” This is the full, updated monograph. A condensed version has appeared as a chapter in African Americans in Urban America: Contemporary Experiences, Wendy Kellogg, ed., (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1996, pages 180–200). The condensed version was originally published under the title “Racially Diverse Communities: A National Necessity” as a chapter in Challenging Uneven Development: An Urban Agenda for the 1990s, Phillip Nyden and Wim Wiewel, eds., (Rutgers University Press, 1991, pp. 49–84).

Oak Park: Integration Takes More Than a Racial Quota.” This 1974 article reports on the very controversial proposal for a racial quota in Oak Park which was trying to establish itself as a rare, stable racially integrated Chicago suburb. The proposal went nowhere, but the debate the ill–fated proposal prompted was rivoting and all the other efforts that Oak Park undertook succeeded. This article from Planning magazine is a fascinating history lesson on issues still relevent 50 years later.