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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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Research: regulatory reform and affordable housing

From Cityscape, HUD USER, Volume 23, Number 1, 2021

The newest issue of this Journal of Policy Development and Research features a symposium examining Regulatory Reform and Affordable Housing. In 1991, at the behest of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) then-Secretary Jack Kemp, the Advisory Commission on Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing issued a report highlighting how land-use restrictions have worsened housing affordability. Since then, HUD has published additional research and information on regulatory barriers, their consequences, and strategies for reducing them. This issue was guest-edited by Regina C. Gray and Mark A. Reardon.

Robert W. Wassmer and Joshua A. Williams analyze data from the Wharton Residential Land Use Regulatory Index to estimate the effects of a one-unit change in regulatory strictness on the price of land available for new residential construction in U.S. metropolitan areas. The authors determine that a one-unit decrease in regulatory stringency could reduce the price of new residential homes by about a fourth of the standard deviation observed in residential land prices across the U.S.

Mike Fratantoni, Edward Seiler, and Jamie Woodwell link land-use restrictions in the last decade and a half to the evolution in housing supply and affordability within a diverse set of metropolitan markets across the U.S. The authors posit that a within-metropolitan area analysis can control for important drivers of housing values to shed light on the impact of land-use regulations at a smaller scale.

Michael LaCour-Little and Weifeng Wu use the National Longitudinal Land Use Survey to evaluate how density control in the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas affects rent growth and home appreciation over time.

Alastair McFarlane, Janet Li, and Michael Hollar present an economic framework to evaluate the costs and benefits of building code regulations on housing markets, with particular attention to energy efficiency.

Linna Zhu, Evgeny Burinskiy, Jorge De la Roca, Richard K. Green, and Marlon G. Boarnet examine a 2016 local ballot measure in Los Angeles County, which created a new by-right inclusionary zoning program near transit. The authors determine that the program has led to almost as many building permits over its shorter life as the longstanding density bonus program.

Emily Hamilton estimates the effects of inclusionary zoning on market-rate house prices and building permits in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region, finding some evidence that inclusionary zoning increases house prices, but does not reduce new housing supply.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners.

See the full list of research papers here.

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