Our economy is at a virtual standstill because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and healthcare. Businesses of all sizes are facing an existential threat. Local municipal budgets are being gutted. As we hope for light at the end of the tunnel we’ll need to craft a smart recovery. We leaned on our experience with the stimulus of 2009 and our long expertise in infrastructure and community development to produce a package of federal policy recommendations Congress should consider to build the foundation for a long-lasting recovery.
Raising children in the city could be considered somewhat novel in a country where the conventional wisdom dictates a move to the suburbs as a family grows. But one family in Washington, DC is glad they stayed in the city, which they believe offers benefits that suburbs often can’t replicate. The challenge is to ensure that more families can reap the same benefits from living and growing in a city.
While the words “housing” and “city” together may conjure images of skyscrapers and high-rise condo buildings, many cities today are dominated by single-family detached homes. But family-friendly cities need more housing and more housing variety. Cities should re-legalize modest homes and missing middle housing that allows choice and made them attractive places to live in the first place. In fact, creating a family-friendly city is more about going back to the past than about creating something new.
In the conversations about cities, much of the media attention has been focused on young professional or older, retiring Americans. But families with children have been largely overlooked in the midst of our current urban renaissance. There has been some recent debated over whether the number of children (and thus families) is increasing or on the decline in cities, and it got us thinking: what would a place designed for families look like?
A century of traditional land-use practices has ingrained inequities deep into communities across America. We’ve produced sprawling, auto-oriented development that has also separated people based on wealth, ethnicity, and race. Form-based zoning is well-positioned to compliment equity-driven public policies, while also enabling walkable, human-scaled development that residents and businesses love.
Street-level stores with apartments above them, like these along Main Street in Ossining, NY, are one example of the type of development current federal regulations restrict.
A growing number of Americans wanting to live in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods—but arcane federal rules make it unnecessarily difficult to build this type of development. A recent study by the Regional Plan Association, released in partnership with LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, highlights how—and what lawmakers can do to change it.