Inclusionary zoning is a tool used by hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide — it requires developers to set aside a fraction of newly constructed housing units to be affordable to lower-income households. Typically, a city or county will adopt a land-use ordinance to both to add more affordable homes and to ensure that low- to moderate-income households can live in high-opportunity neighborhoods. Inclusionary zoning advances equitable development by ensuring that housing is available for a diverse workforce; guarding against concentrations of poverty and affluence; and providing ladders of opportunity to lower-income households to gain access to better jobs, schools, transit options, health care, and fresh food grocers.
In California alone, more than 170 jurisdictions have implemented inclusionary zoning policies resulting in the addition of an estimated 30,000 newly constructed affordable homes in higher-opportunity neighborhoods in California. Inclusionary zoning can help to reduce racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, which tend to produce negative impacts for residential health, educational achievement, and economic mobility. Inclusionary-zoning policies should be tailored to match the community’s current needs. For example, in distressed communities that have historically struggled to attract investment, timing the introduction of inclusionary zoning requirements is important so that the market is able to produce the maximum amount of affordable housing.
For more resources on inclusionary zoning, see the Grounded Solutions Network, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.