Inclusionary zoning policies

Program overview

  • Policies that encourage or require developers to dedicate a share of new housing units to low- or moderate-income households
  • May be legally mandated or driven by incentives like density bonuses, expedited permitting, or reduced design standards

Evidence and impacts


Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

  • Increases supply of affordable housing in urban areas with strong housing demand
  • Most effective when incentives are included
  • May reduce rates of neighborhood displacement

Best practices in implementation

  • Note: This content is under review.
  • Partner with elected officials and zoning and housing agencies to propose and pass inclusionary-zoning policies; engage with business leaders, community-based organizations, and residents to gather input and build support for potential policy changes.
  • Evaluate both voluntary and mandatory zoning policies; approaches have varied success depending on local factors such as community needs, housing market dynamics, and developers’ investment strategies.
  • Consider securing a dedicated line of funding for developer cost offsets, thus ensuring affordable housing for residents and profitability for builders.
  • Set aside a predetermined minimum share of affordable housing units within a development; this figure often ranges from 10-25 percent, but certain local and state laws may include specific requirements.
  • Work with local government agencies to use public resources to further subsidize housing, such as through housing choice vouchers, home buyer assistance, and direct public ownership of inclusionary units.
  • Incorporate data, especially on current market values, land use, and affordable housing needs, into both policy proposals and advocacy campaign materials.
  • Dedicate a substantial portion of early budget capacity to legal and technical assistance, especially in complex regulatory environments at the local, state, and/or federal level.