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Evidence Matters


Spring 2018

Editor’s Note

Local zoning and land use regulations, as well as “not in my backyard” opposition, the focus of this edition of Evidence Matters, increase development costs and contribute to a shortage of affordable housing in many places that desperately need it. Density limitations, height restrictions, and parking requirements, among other rules, limit the amount of land available for development, driving up land prices. Lengthy permitting and approval processes and community hearings create costly delays and uncertainty for developers. Consequently, less affordable housing is constructed, and the price of the housing that is built increases. Not only do renters end up paying higher prices, many becoming cost burdened, but economic growth is also stifled when workers cannot afford to live in places where they can be most productive. This issue examines some of the policies and practices that state and local governments are implementing to address the many regulatory barriers to affordable housing.

The lead article, “Regulatory Barriers and Affordable Housing: Problems and Solutions,” discusses the history and purpose of zoning and land use regulations, how these regulations have contributed to increased housing costs, and the local strategies and policy responses aimed at overcoming these barriers. The Research Spotlight, “Exploring the Current State of Knowledge on the Impact of Regulations on Housing Supply,” by Regina C. Gray, discusses research on the costs of regulatory barriers to date and recommends issues deserving further inquiry. Finally, the In Practice article, “States Reduce Regulatory Barriers for Affordable Housing,” looks specifically at legislative efforts in Massachusetts and California to streamline permitting processes and ease restrictive zoning laws that hinder affordable housing development.

We hope this edition of Evidence Matters provides a helpful overview of this critical topic. Our next issue will focus on the connections between housing and employment. Please provide feedback on any of our issues at