Who can afford to live in Raleigh, today and into the future? We are at a crossroads in determining who has access to our city.
Affordable housing policy should be a significant priority, and not something simply left to market forces. Increased supply can bring down prices, but demand is so strong (and growing) that we can’t expect supply to be a silver bullet.
For cities like Raleigh that have a lot of development and anticipate significant development in the coming years, inclusionary housing programs should be put in place. Over the past few decades, an increasing number of cities are adopting inclusionary zoning programs. We have models to look to from Washington, D.C. to Winston-Salem.
The best inclusionary programs offer multiple incentives to developers to ensure long-term affordability, and they are mandatory. There are 15 municipalities in North Carolina with inclusionary housing programs. Why isn’t Raleigh one of them?
Incentives for developers to provide affordable housing could include design flexibilities, subsidies, fast-track processing, and density bonuses. When zoning decisions are up for a vote, city council can require affordable housing in exchange for approval. We have a lot of tools in the toolbox that aren’t being used.
Changes made by this council to the unified development ordinance (UDO) will undoubtedly make Raleigh denser. And there are co-benefits to encouraging density like ‘missing middle’ housing: walkability, transit access, and sprawl reduction will hopefully be realized. But at the end of the day, just who will experience those benefits? If folks are priced out of their neighborhoods, they will be forced to leave Raleigh.