As part of their election campaign, president-elect Joe Biden and his team have proposed reforms to housing and zoning that would re-enact an Obama-era piece of legislation called the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. Biden’s team also will seek to develop a strategy for nationwide inclusionary zoning, a plan first proposed last year by Senator Cory Booker in bill H.R. 4808, otherwise known as the Home Act of 2019. (congress.gov, 2019)
The AFFH provision dates back to 1968, when it was created as part of the Fair Housing Act passed by congress in order to ensure an end to discriminatory housing practices so endemic across the country for decades prior. (nationalfairhousing.org, 2020)
Overseen by the US Department of Housing and Development (HUD), the initiative was expanded in 2015 under president Obama. Part of the program involves the rezoning of suburban areas that have historically been single-family and overwhelmingly white. Bulk regulation incentives and other zoning perks allow for multi-family units to be developed in these areas, thus allowing for lower-income families or younger professionals to live in these otherwise financially inaccessible neighborhoods.
There has been pushback from the other side of the aisle, where concerns that the program would spell the end of the suburbs led to its dismantling two years ago. Yet, inclusionary and mixed zoning offers opportunity and allows for diversity and the robust thriving of a neighborhood. As Biden gets ready for his first term, it will remain to be seen what kinds of policy he will be able to enact with regard to housing and zoning reform, especially given a split House and Senate.