Inclusionary housing programs generally refer to local planning ordinances that require or incentivize developers to build affordable housing as part of the process of developing market-rate housing developments. Despite the widespread adoption of local inclusionary housing policies, this approach continues to draw criticism and programs across the country have faced opposition and, in some cases, legal challenge. Critics often claim that inclusionary housing policies are not effective at producing affordable housing and have negative impacts on local housing markets. However, the most highly regarded empirical evidence suggests that inclusionary housing programs can produce affordable housing and do not lead to significant declines in overall housing production or to increases in market-rate prices. The effectiveness of an inclusionary housing program is highly dependent on local economic and housing market conditions, as well as the specific design and implementation of the policy. In general, mandatory programs in strong housing markets that have predictable rules, well-designed cost offsets, and flexible compliance alternatives tend to be the most effective types of inclusionary housing programs.
Lisa Sturtevant, Ph.D. is president and founder of Lisa Sturtevant & Associates, LLC. Dr. Sturtevant has been involved in research and analysis on local economic, demographic and housing market conditions for more than 15 years. She has worked on projects for local governments, non-profit organizations and private sector clients and has an established track record of providing insightful, high-quality analysis.