Evolving Toward Inclusive Cities: A Series from Caddis Collaborative

Post #2: Inclusionary Zoning and Housing Justice

Faced with a history of exclusionary housing, some cities have recently begun to create inclusionary programs to combat this existing exclusion. In fact, there are now over 900 inclusionary housing programs in the United States!

Some cities have developed affordable housing programs. Boulder, Colorado – where Caddis Collaborative grew up and has its offices – is one such city.

Other cities have embraced “inclusionary upzoning,” a type of “rezoning that permits greater housing or commercial development through such means as density increases, height or bulk increases, parking reductions, or permission to build housing where it was previously prohibited.”

And in a ground-breaking policy implemented in 2020, Minneapolis became the first U.S. city to ban single-family zoning in every neighborhood throughout the entire city. Though Minneapolis has experienced huge economic growth, it still has the nation’s lowest Black home ownership rate – and the new policy, which will now allow duplexes and triplexes and other housing arrangements, is intended to combat this inequity. (For more on Minneapolis’s history of exclusionary housing, see the University of Minnesota’s Mapping Prejudice website.)

American cities need to learn and evolve.

A false dichotomy exists in the minds of many Americans between single-family homes on one side and apartment complexes on the other side. What’s needed now is room for the “the missing middle.” A fluid range of housing types can be created by allowing duplexes and triplexes; accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or multiple ADUs on one lot; or zoning that allows more unrelated people to live in a house and embrace newer definitions of what can be accepted as family.

To address this need for more economically accessible housing, “housing justice” groups are springing up across the country. One example of this type of housing activism is “Bedrooms Are for People,” a grassroots movement in Boulder that is pushing to increase the number of unrelated individuals who can reside in the same house. Bedrooms Are for People is just one of many organizations working in communities across the United States for housing justice, that is, an approach to housing in which safe and adequate housing is a human right guaranteed to all.

Several of these housing justice organizations have banded together under the umbrella of the Lead Local Collaborative. Right To The City Alliance is “building a national movement for racial justice, urban justice, human rights, and democracy.” Housing Justice League is a resident-led organization focused on housing rights in Atlanta, including a focus on resisting gentrification. And Community Alliance of Tenants is a membership organization in Oregon of mostly low-income renters working together for access to fair housing. These are just three of many groups collaborating for greater community power to address housing justice.

All of these efforts – from affordable housing programs and rezoning legislation to housing justice activism — are part of the move toward inclusionary housing. To learn more about inclusionary housing, visit Grounded Solutions Network’s website, “Inclusionary Housing Explained” and their “Inclusionary Housing Map and Program Database.”

More from Our Series on Evolving Toward Inclusive Cities

Want to learn more about how the United States might evolve toward more inclusive cities? Join Caddis Collaborative as we explore these issues. Learning about these issues is one step toward a cure. Check out our other posts in this series:

For a list of additional resources, check out the links included at the end of Post #5: American Cities Can Learn and Evolve

Photo by Samantha Sophia via Bedrooms Are For People via Unsplash.

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