A confusing, contradictory displacement strategy

The other day in the Monitor I wrote about a report from the Anti-Displacement Task Force, a group of folks appointed by Council members to come up with ways to prevent rising property values from displacing low-income residents.

While the focus on creating new housing was warmly received by Council, other recommendations stoked familiar divisions among Council members over land use policy. Notably, the report seemed to endorse the theory, long backed by neighborhood associations and Council members focused on preserving the character of single-family home neighborhoods, that increasing housing supply may exacerbate, rather than alleviate, affordability challenges.

I have not attended any of the meetings of the task force, so I’m not sure how much debate there was over the 107 different recommendations included in the final report. But it’s baffling to me that there was no mention of increasing overall housing stock.

Of the 17 members of the task force, seven were appointed by Adler and the other ten were appointed by the remaining Council members. That means that at least 13 of the task force members were appointed by Council members who have at some point endorsed the economic consensus that housing supply plays a key role in determining housing cost. And yet all 17 endorsed a report that not only neglected that point, but ran directly counter to it. For instance:

The adoption of a new land development code should not have the impact of increasing density in areas having a degree of gentrification with a “Late,” “Dynamic,” or “Early Type 1” designation in the recent UT study Uprooted, unless those zoning changes are tied to the provision of affordable housing.

That means no missing-middle housing, such as triplexes or four-plexes, in neighborhoods where working class people can no longer afford to buy single-family homes.

Develop a Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay (also called a Neighborhood Conservation District) requiring new development to meet standards more stringent than the baseline zoning standards as a way of respecting neighborhood scale and character (i.e., slowing or prohibiting out-of-scale development that is occurring).

Same thing.


One thought on “A confusing, contradictory displacement strategy

  1. For what its worth, increasing supply in a particular neighborhood isn’t *proven* to reduce displacement in that neighborhood. There’s some good research that seems to suggest it might, but its very hard to tease out causation. But it might also be linked to increasing housing prices and increased rent burdens for those not displaced. Probably, the answer in this, as in many things, is that it probably depends a lot on neighborhood conditions and overall market conditions.

    In an overall housing market, its pretty clear that you need to increase supply, but to be fair to everyone involved, we are doing that through sprawl already. This has limits as an affordability strategy (or environmental strategy) with the increased costs of transportation associated.

    I just want to be a bit humble about what we know vs. what we suspect here.

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