Trending Legislation: Affordable Housing

Housing is affordable if a household can live in it expending only 30% of its income and still maintain secure access to food, health care, and other daily life essentials.

A Building Crisis

Even before the recent coronavirus outbreak, affordable housing was an increasing issue of concern across the nation. A shortage of reasonable housing availability was already posing a threat for middle-class to low-income families. With rising house prices, home ownership is increasingly out of reach for many, and rents so high that saving money is nearly impossible, causing some Americans to join the rising number of homeless

Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people across the country are evicted. Those hardest hit by the affordable housing crisis include first-time homebuyers, seniors, people with disabilities and veterans.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse.

Addressing Affordability

Local governments have the ability to impact several aspects of this issue, from controlling housing types, sizes, and location to transportation access, infrastructure, and speedier approval processes.

The variety of tools available to address the current crisis includes:

Taking Action

The Affordable Housing crisis is far too complex to have a single solution. But reviewing current ordinances for gaps or areas of concern that can be revised and updated is a place to start.

For instance, an editorial and legal analysis provides municipal leaders with pertinent information that identifies conflicts, inconsistencies, duplication and statutory compliance issues. The analysis includes recommended changes to strengthen your zoning and municipal codes.

Additionally, municipalities are drafting and enacting legislation that requires a certain percentage or share of new construction to be affordable to people with low to moderate incomes. This type of legislation is sometimes referred to as “inclusionary zoning” or “inclusionary housing.”

Another remedy at the local government level is to retool outdated zoning codes. The idea is to make it easier for developers to include affordable options, as well as prioritizing affordable or mixed-use housing for incentives such as brownfield tax credits.

Useful examples from the eCode360® Library

If your community is interested in legislating to support or encourage development of affordable housing, some useful examples can be found in our eCode360 Library, including:

Town of Brookhaven, NY- Affordable Housing

Borough of Avalon, NJ (Cape May) – Enforcement of Affordable Housing Regulations

Talbot County, MD (Talbot) – Affordable Workforce Housing

Updating municipal codes is vitally important

As local governments continue to adjust and transform digitally to the ever-shifting needs of the COVID-19 era, keeping municipal codes updated has become more essential than ever. It’s important to sustain orderly and accessible knowledge of the most current regulations and resolutions in a timely manner.

We encourage our clients to submit code updates as soon as possible to make sure constituents and local government officials are always referencing and working with the most up-to-date resources. Clients can send legislation to [email protected].

Best practices for managing your codification budget

Many of our client communities find it helpful to be on a code update schedule to help manage their budgets throughout the year. Our Client Care Advocates can work with you and explain the options and benefits of scheduled code updates. Give them a call at 800.836.8834 or send an email to [email protected]. They’d be happy to help or answer any other codification questions you might have.


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