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Seattle and Decatur Enact Strategies to Increase Affordable Housing

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December 15, 2023  

In Depth: Seattle and Decatur Enact Strategies to Increase Affordable Housing

The In Depth section on HUD User’s Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse (RBC) takes a closer look at innovative state and local strategies, activities, and plans to mitigate the impacts of regulations on the development of affordable housing. Each In Depth article highlights a particular plan, ordinance, or strategy in the RBC database and elaborates on aspects such as the approval process, stakeholder participation, and the progress made in reducing regulatory barriers. Learn more at

Leveraging New Development for Affordable Housing in Seattle
In response to escalating housing affordability, homelessness, and equity concerns, Seattle convened a working group that produced the 2015 Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. The resulting report focuses on the goal of creating 50,000 housing units, including 20,000 units of affordable housing, over a 10-year period. Key to achieving this objective is the implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) policy, which upzoned Seattle's multifamily and commercial neighborhoods while requiring developers to contribute to the city's affordable housing, either by creating affordable units or through a monetary contribution. In the years since its implementation, the MHA policy has become a significant source of revenue for city spending on affordable housing creation and preservation. Read the article at

Decatur Enacts High-Priority Recommendations From the Affordable Housing Task Force Report Decatur, Georgia, responding to a shortage of affordable housing, established the Affordable Housing Task Force (AHTF) in 2019 to conduct a 6-month study on the regulatory barriers to affordable housing. The AHTF's research culminated in a report with more than 20 recommendations to address the issue, leading to the adoption of zoning amendments permitting missing middle housing options just 6 months after releasing the report. The city further implemented AHTF recommendations in 2021 by creating the Decatur Land Trust to secure permanently affordable housing and modifying zoning regulations to allow cottage court developments. Other AHTF recommendations are still actively being implemented to diversify housing options and foster a more inclusive and affordable community. Read the article at

Visit HUD User’s RBC In Depth page to learn more about strategies at work in Seattle and Decatur, as well as other plans and initiatives that state and local governments have enacted to reduce impediments to affordable housing. Learn more at

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RBC Announcements Regulatory Barriers Research Subscribe to RBC Updates House Bill No. 6090 Substitute A, relating to the adaptive reuse of structures, and amending Chapter 45-25, Zoning Ordinances, of the Rhode Island General Laws Ordinance 540-H, relating to missing middle housing, and amending several sections of Chapter 16, Land Development Regulations, of the St. Petersburg Code of Ordinances Senate Bill 4, relating to housing development by religious and higher education institutions, and adding Section 65913.16 to the California Government Code