Better housing is known to improve a variety of health outcomes. Neighborhood characteristics also have a major impact on health-related determinants, such as the availability of healthy food and exposures to environmental toxins, gun violence, and other morbidity and mortality risks.
The Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing demonstration reported positive health outcomes, such as reductions in the prevalence of diabetes and improved mental health indicators, among people given a chance to move from a high-poverty to a low-poverty neighborhood. Studies also suggest that the creation of affordable housing in low-poverty communities could lead not just to improved overall living conditions for disadvantaged families but also to better educational and professional opportunities.
Inclusionary zoning (IZ) is an approach designed to create affordable housing in low-poverty neighborhoods and foster (or maintain) socioeconomic and racial integration.
The relationship of zoning to affordable housing remains a contested issue, especially in regions with high housing costs. Many jurisdictions, such as suburbs seeking to preserve their traditional characteristics, have long relied on exclusionary zoning and strict land-use regulations—including mandating minimum lot sizes and limiting housing density. Such provisions can reinforce existing residential inequities by promoting racial and economic segregation and disproportionately affecting people who are already disadvantaged.
In contrast, IZ policies and programs are designed to help foster greater social and economic mobility and integration. The main goal is to increase the supply of affordable units interspersed throughout market-rate housing in low-poverty, high-opportunity areas. In other forms of affordable housing (those not created under IZ policies), the low- and moderate-income units are more likely to be clustered in less expensive and less economically robust neighborhoods
Join us at ARJ as we explore the impacts of zoning,
and all the ways we can support paths to more housing justice.