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Promoting Inclusive Communities: How Cities Can Utilize Local Housing Policy to Combat Economic Segregation
All Localities    
Publication Date
John Hopkins University, 21st Century Cities Initiative
This report describes housing policies that local governments have adopted to reverse growing neighborhood income inequality and the policies' effectiveness. Noting that neighborhood inequality has risen even faster than household inequality (21% and 13%, respectively, in the largest 264 metropolitan areas between 1970 and 2010), the report categorizes in three strategies the policies various cities have used to alleviate economic segregation, which include policies to address regulatory barriers to affordable housing.

One strategy is to ensure that affordable housing is available in all neighborhoods. In addition to tapping federal programs to finance new affordable housing and vouchers to encourage mobility to high opportunity neighborhoods, the authors state that cities have reviewed their land use regulations and eliminated exclusionary zoning provisions. Many communities have adopted inclusionary zoning, and some have adopted rent control, although the authors cite research finding that this policy has had undesirable effects.

The report also includes a set of policies that have been used to promote fair housing. A fundamental action is for local governments to cooperate in a regional housing plan that establishes common goals as well as targeted programs for each community's specific situation, according to the authors. The report mentions two specific policies addressing barriers: voucher programs that support mobility to opportunity-rich areas and local ordinances that prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants with vouchers and similar sources of income.

In addition, the report discusses policies that create alternative homeownership models. These include local community land trusts and housing cooperatives to protect naturally occurring affordable housing.

Note: Guidance documents, except when based on statutory or regulatory authority or law, do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. Guidance documents are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.