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Zoning Commission Votes to Make Inclusionary Zoning More Inclusive

by Nena Perry-Brown

Inclusionary zoning (IZ) allows developers to construct denser projects than what is allowed by-right on a given site by mandating that a percentage of the housing units be set aside for households earning less than the area median income (AMI).

Zoning Commission Votes to Make Inclusionary Zoning More Inclusive: Figure 1
The 2015 income eligibility limits, based on an area median income (AMI) of $109,200

Eighty percent of AMI has been the benchmark for IZ units at new developments in the city, and with a 2015 AMI of $109,200 for the DC area, it has become increasingly apparent that households in this income bracket can often afford to rent at market rate. The Campaign for Inclusionary Zoning has been advocating since January 2015 for the Zoning Commission to reconsider these standards in order to serve a larger swath of residents who earn up to 60 percent AMI and are languishing on IZ lottery waiting lists.

Last night, the Commission voted in favor of lowering the standard affordability threshold for IZ rental units to 60 percent of AMI. Essentially, this means that one-bedroom IZ apartments will rent to this group for $1,100 a month, which is affordable for a family of two earning $52,000 annually, rather than the current average of $1,600. Renters will still be required to make a minimum of 40 percent AMI.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates AMI for jurisdictions nationwide, and for 2016, that amount has decreased for the DC-VA-MD metropolitan area, to $108,600. Although expanding the affordability of IZ rental units is an important step, DC may be overdue for examining the overall efficacy of the program.

The IZ standards on for-sale units will not be affected by the approved amendment, and developments which have already been approved will also be unaffected. When considered with the current pace of development in the city, this change is expected to create over 2,600 apartments affordable to low-income households over the next 5-10 years.

The amendment will be enacted following a 30-day public review period.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/zoning_commission_votes_to_make_inclusionary_zoning_more_inclusive/11497

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