Where We Are Now
It’s official – we just won a major victory to make IZ truly affordable! The DC Zoning Commission voted on October 17, 2016, to support lowering the income eligibility levels for IZ so that the program can meet the true need for more affordable housing. The new rules will require that most new residential developments provide IZ rental units affordable at 60% of median family income, and all condos at 80% median family income. The set-asides remain the same – 8-10% of the total residential space.
What’s next? The District of Columbia Council passed a law amending the act that implements IZ to be consistent with the changes made by the DC Zoning Commission. Now we are waiting for Mayor Bowser to close the final loops.
But we are stuck! The Mayor Bowser administration committed to providing revised regulations and a price schedule by the June 5, 2017, start date – but we have yet to see the draft regulations. At this point, we are asking, what’s the holdup?
Thank you all you have done! The Zoning Commission voted in favor of enhancing the Inclusionary Zoning policy on July 20th.
Now we are waiting for Mayor Bowser to close the final loops. Stay tuned for an action to ask Mayor Bowser – what’s the holdup?
We’ve sent these email action alerts to our subscribers about inclusionary zoning (IZ). They’re an excellent way to get up-to-speed on the issue quickly!
More resources on inclusionary zoning (IZ):
- Press release: Zoning Commission takes important step to strengthen affordable housing in the District
- Affordable Housing to Expand in DC With Vote to Strengthen Inclusionary Zoning, DC Fiscal Policy Institute
- D.C. Zoning Commission Allots More Affordable Units For Lower Income Families, DCist
- Zoning Commission Votes to Make Inclusionary Zoning More Inclusive, DC Urban Turf
- Testimony in response to the DC Building Industry Association (DCBIA) (July 13, 2016)
- Additional testimony to DC Zoning Commission (July 13, 2016)
- Coalition’s statement of support to Zoning Commission (March 3, 2016)
- Fact sheet: Making IZ Affordable
- Advocates’ Briefing on how IZ works (October 2015)
- Briefing PowerPoint: Changes to make IZ more affordable (January 2016)
- DC Office of Planning IZ Case File (Search for case 04-33G)
What is IZ?
Inclusionary zoning, or IZ, is a program that uses the market to provide more affordable housing. When new condos or apartments are built, IZ requires 8-10% of them to rented or sold more affordably — only to people making below a certain income. In return, home builders can build a few extra market rate units in order to offset the difference in overall cost.
IZ is not a magic bullet for DC’s affordable housing crisis, but it is part of a toolbox of solutions that can make a big dent in our affordability problem. That toolbox also includes:
- Building more market-rate housing to better meet strong demand
- Preserving the affordable housing we already have
- Investing more in the production of new affordable homes
- Making better use of city-owned land to provide affordable and mixed-income housing
We like IZ because it’s a way to harness DC’s building boom to ensure more affordable places. Plus, it helps to create more socio-economic diversity in otherwise wealthy neighborhoods — which makes for more vibrant, interesting places and greater opportunity for people with modest incomes.
But the prices IZ is offering for more affordable places are a little too high. Many working residents who were meant to be helped by the program haven’t been able to benefit, because the IZ units are still too expensive for them.
The Zoning Commission will hear changes on lowering income eligbility
In early 2015, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, Jews United for Justice, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, People’s Consulting, Somerset Development, City First Homes, and PolicyLink came together to form the DC Campaign for Inclusionary Zoning, which formally petitioned the Zoning Commission for changes to the inclusionary zoning regulations.
Since the Zoning Commission relies on staff and analytical support of the Office of Planning, it has waited for OP to fulfill its request for recommendations on potential revisions. Now, over a year later, the Zoning Commission will consider these proposed changes (Zoning Case # 04-33G) and alternative proposals from OP.
The most important change the Zoning Commission will consider is lowering the income level for eligible households to 60% of the area’s median family income for rental IZ unit, and 80% of median family income for ownership units. (As proposed in under 1B in OP’s July 3 report to the Zoning Commission).
Today, the vast majority of all IZ units are priced at 80% area media income. For reference, that’s nearly $70,000/year for a 2 person household. A one-bedroom IZ apartment at the 80% level costs $1640/month — far too much, and approximately market-price in many parts of DC.
Under the proposed changes, in the same scenario, these IZ units would be priced for households making 60% of area median income ($52,400 for a household of 2). They would cost $1100/month.