Advocates call on Bowser, Zoning Commission to strengthen affordable housing policies

A group of D.C. housing advocates are calling on new mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Zoning Commission to strengthen the city’s affordable housing policy, specifically, Inclusionary Zoning, a program that requires new developments to produce lower-priced units.

In an open letter to Bowser, signed by a number of organizations—including the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, D.C. the Fiscal Policy Institute, Jews United for Justice, City First Homes, PolicyLink and Somerset Development.—they ask the Zoning Commission to strengthen its Inclusionary Zoning program to “ensure it can best achieve its goal to creat a mix of low- and moderate-income affordable housing throughout the District.”

The letter cites a recent report from the Urban Institute that analyzed and did a comprehensive review of D.C.’s IZ policy, outlining the ways in which it can be improved. Among those recommendations includes ways to lower moderate-income limits for IZ units while increasing the production of low-income units, pricing affordable housing units based on 25 percent of the occupant’s income rather than 30 percent, and requiring low rise or rental buildings to set aside at least 12 percent of their units for affordable housing and ten percent of units for high rises.

“This policy has great potential to help address the needs of working people who are priced out of the District of Columbia,” Joslyn Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, said in a statement. “Now is the time to strengthen Inclusionary Zoning to ensure it is a more effective tool to make living in DC within reach for moderate and low income workers.”

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