Sunday, June 10, 2007

What is Inclusionary Zoning?

Many groups that advocate for affordable housing cite "inclusionary zoning" as one tool to help achieve that goal. Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) is basically a requirement that a certain percentage of new housing stock must be affordable to households with low to moderate income. Usually this percentage is somewhere between 10-30%. Frequently IZ ordnances provide incentives to developers in return for the creation of affordable housing. The idea is to prevent homogeneity of income levels in defined areas, since a mix of income levels is seen by many as healthy for a neighborhood. In many cases IZ achieves it's goals of affordable housing, mixed-income neighborhoods, and less sprawl, but it does so with certain costs. IZ is seen by many as essentially a tax on new development assessed against developers. In addition, some question whether it's effects on the redistribution of low-income households is really a net benefit to those households. Last, as in the case of Madison, WI's ordnance, IZ may be viewed as rent control which is illegal in Wisconsin.

Further Reading:

Wikipedia: Inclusionary Zoning

PolicyLink: Inclusionary Zoning - What is it?

Guide to Pros and Cons of IZ (.PDF)