In releasing a Housing Development Toolkit earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development amplified a growing chorus of voices calling for reform to regulations that limit housing production. The report states, “The increasing severity of under-supplied housing markets is jeopardizing housing affordability for working families, exacerbating income inequality by reducing workers’ access to higher-wage labor markets, and stifling GDP growth by driving labor migration away from the most productive regions.”
In its opening discussion of the prevalence of local barriers to housing development, the report draws on UCLA Lewis Center scholars several times. First, the report cites PhD alumnus Greg Morrow’s work in a discussion of Los Angeles that is a case study for what local cities should not do. Morrow showed that in 1960, Los Angeles was zoned for 10 million people; after decades of increasingly stringent housing regulations, it is now zoned for only 4.3 million, a figure only slightly higher than the city’s actual population of 4.1 million. This tightness in the housing market has led to spiraling price increases.
The report also cites recently completed research by UCLA Lewis Center Faculty Fellows Michael Lens and Paavo Monkkonen. They showed that density restrictions are associated with increased income segregation, and that increased state (rather than local) control over land use is associated with lower levels of segregation. Citing Lens and Monkkonen, the report emphasizes “the key role that states can play in ensuring access to affordable housing.”
As far as policy prescriptions, the report highlights “good work being done” around the country — examples of how states and local jurisdictions have taken action. Among others, these actions include:
Allowing development by-rightEnacting high-density […]