• marymfkelly

Does Up-zoning Make Housing More Affordable? (B.PottsBaker)

Governing (July 2019) “Rendezvous with Destiny” Full article and maps can be read here: https://www.governing.com/topics/urban/gov-zoning-density.html


Does Up-zoning Make Housing More Affordable? This is the question Governing Magazine pondered in its July 2019 issue as related to Seattle’s April 2019 zoning reform. The same question is being asked by city planners and city councils all over the country.


For the past ten years Seattle’s real estate market has grown exponentially causing a huge increase in home prices and rentals. In just one year 2015 - 2016, they saw a 10% increase in rental prices. The city’s homeless population is quickly growing. The Seattle Housing Authority recognized the city’s lack of housing density as a big problem given that two-thirds of the city is zoned single-family. Andrew Lofton, executive director of the Seattle Housing Authority says, “When a multi-part project is built, it’s usually a luxury apartment building. While there is more supply, it’s not coming online for moderate income earners.”


Seattle looked at the lead Minneapolis showed in December 2018 when Minneapolis became the first city in the nation to up-zone its entire jurisdiction. It will help us understand the complexities if we understand the history - how our cities got to the place we find ourselves today. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard found “...more than half of the nation’s renters are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. The most obvious answer for many cities is to increase the housing supply by going after single-family zoning, which has been sacrosanct in much of the nation for more than 100 years.”


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