Inclusionary Housing and Community Development

However, over the past 50 years or so, state and city governments around the USA have led a number of initiatives to dismantle or counteract exclusionary zoning provisions and offset the impacts of gentrification by fostering new affordable housing development. Whilst cities may directly subsidise housing development, few have the economic resources to do this in a significant way. Rather, direct subsidy for housing development is seen as the role of the federal government, which provides grant funding under the schemes outlined above, for use at the local level. With limited other resources available to allocate to housing, cities tend to look for ways to facilitate the development of affordable housing at low or no cost to the community, particularly through the planning process.

‘Inclusionary housing’ is the term most frequently used to describe a wide variety of techniques that link development of low- and moderate- income housing to development of housing for the middle- and upper- income market. A variety of different types of schemes have emerged across the different state and local jurisdictions of the USA (Schuetz 2009; Calavita et al. 2010). The term ‘inclusionary’ was coined because these approaches seek to directly counteract the ‘exclusionary’ impacts of zoning and planning schemes which are intended to reduce social diversity. In 2014, the Centre for Housing Policy identified 512 inclusionary housing programmes across 27 states and the District of Columbia (Centre for Housing Policy 2014). However, there is no national listing of the number of affordable housing units which have been delivered as a result of these schemes. Following the GFC and housing market downturn in the USA, there were debates about the future of many such schemes, in the context of ongoing concerns about their impact on development viability as well as the need for low-cost home ownership versus affordable rental dwellings (Hickey 2013). Yet in the context of major investment in transit projects, and widespread up-zoning for higher-density and infill housing, many cities have sought to maintain affordable housing opportunities through inclusionary policies (Centre for Transit Oriented Development 2009).

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