Housing Matters – A Call for Zoning Reform, August, 2015

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Data Analysis of MF zoning& buildable landOne of the major issues that drives up the cost of housing and makes it impossible for people of low and modest means to afford it is the price of land in our region.

We live in a wonderful place and in many parts we border the Atlantic Ocean. The demand for land and the limitation of moving east make land more expensive certainly. This demand is a force we can do very little about. However we also have policy controls that further drive up the cost of land.

The major policy challenge which raises land costs, and therefore rental and first time homebuyer costs, is zoning.   We manage zoning at a local level in every municipality in the State. We do this in some part for good reason as we want to respect local control.   One of the downsides to our zoning policy as a region is that we have legally restricted multi- family housing development to a minority of land. This further exacerbates the problem of demand and the related problem of cost because there is such little land that can be used to create apartments or cluster family development.

We need more multi family zoning if we have any chance of housing our seniors, our young working families and those with disabilities.   Please consider talking about this in your community with your elected officials, planning boards and planning staff.

 If we want to respond to our housing needs and drive down cost, zoning reform is something we can control that can help that effort.