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Who Needs to Be Invited to the Affordable Housing Planning Meeting?

September 30, 2015

By Alexis Stephens : Next City – excerpt

nclusionary zoning is no longer the new kid on the block for cities looking for ways to address their affordable housing shortages. There are now over 500 programs in 27 states that tie a provision of housing for low- and moderate-income households to market-rate construction.

These units help to mitigate displacement of low-income residents, especially in urban areas where housing prices are skyrocketing. But how these policies have been implemented nationwide has created wildly different outcomes for localities looking to combat gentrification. Meanwhile, many people still fear that such affordable housing regulations will hamper real estate development.

“What we’ve seen is there’s been a big difference in the effectiveness of programs depending on their details,” says Rick Jacobus, the author of a new report on inclusionary housing from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. “People have to study up on it in order to do it well.”

In “Inclusionary Housing: Creating and Maintaining Equitable Communities,” Jacobus uses existing research — often only available in academic journals or in consultant’s reports — to detail where city hall, real estate developers and local stakeholders have collaborated to design programs that generate affordable housing without slowing down development. The guide gives practical information to housing advocates and policymakers about economic impacts, how to build public support, and the nuts and bolts of designing an equitable inclusionary housing policy… (more)

I am having a little bit of a problem with inclusionary housing, in that it does nothing to protect the neighborhoods from gentrification. In the case of cities like San Francisco, and Los Angeles, citizens choose to live in neighborhoods because they like them and they like the diversity that comes with different neighborhoods. Whether you live in a neighborhood or not, you may visit it and appreciate those differences as long as the neighborhood character is protected. What we are experiencing is a total disintegration of the neighborhoods by developers who do not understand or care to preserve that character.
It seems like the only way to protect our neighborhoods is to allow more  offsite neighborhood preservation and sensitive development that fits in the areas people want to preserve. The better plan may be for developers to pay into an affordable housing fund and use that to preserve the “affordable” neighborhoods by keeping them affordable and building new buildings that fit the style.

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