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Strategies to Minimize Displacement: Inclusionary Zoning


Brownfields—or properties with environmental contamination or potentially contaminated land—are disproportionately located in or near communities of color and low-income communities. Residents near these properties may face heightened health hazards and economic disinvestment until the site undergoes assessment and cleanup, which can be a costly and lengthy process.

Safely reusing a brownfield site is an opportunity to improve community health and bring in new amenities. However, brownfield redevelopment can also exacerbate affordability and displacement concerns. As costs rise and it becomes more expensive to live in a community, lower-income residents and small businesses are often displaced. Strong, early community engagement in the brownfields reuse process presents an opportunity for the community to have a meaningful role and input on how to minimize displacement through the cleanup and reuse process. Community leaders, stakeholders, and practitioners can be proactive and put strategies in place to minimize the risk of displacement. These strategies take time, resources, and political will to implement, and they are most effective if put into place before displacement is already occurring.

Tool: Inclusionary zoning

Inclusionary zoning (IZ) refers to municipal regulations that reserve a certain number or percentage of units within a housing development to be designated as below market rate (BMR), or affordable for low- to moderate-income households. Communities institute inclusionary zoning to protect and maintain the long-term affordability of housing units, which helps prevent displacement by ensuring that some housing units are reserved for residents of all incomes. A municipality can require developers to set aside 10-30% of units as affordable within a certain percentage of AMI, usually ranging from 50-80% (correlating to middle to low- income).

Inclusionary zoning programs have considerable success in generating and preserving affordable housing units in the jurisdictions where they exist—93% of IZ programs surveyed nationally contained stipulations that preserve affordability of the unit for at least 30 years.

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