Matthew Yglesias, a journalist and co-founder of the policy website Vox, has written extensively on the topic of affordable housing in “comeback cities,” which are urban areas that are experiencing a resurgence in population and economic activity. Here are some of his top recommendations for creating more affordable housing in these cities:
- Eliminating minimum parking requirements: Yglesias argues that minimum parking requirements are costly, inefficient, and encourage car dependency. By eliminating these requirements, cities can free up valuable land for other uses and reduce the cost of housing.
- Upzoning: Yglesias advocates for upzoning, which means allowing higher-density development in certain areas, particularly in transit-rich neighborhoods. By allowing for more housing units per square foot, upzoning can help alleviate the housing affordability crisis in many cities.
- Allowing for accessory dwelling units (ADUs): Yglesias supports allowing property owners to build ADUs, such as granny flats or basement apartments, on their properties. This can increase the supply of affordable housing while also providing additional income streams for property owners.
- Form-based zoning: Instead of focusing on land use categories, form-based zoning regulates the physical characteristics of buildings and streetscapes. This can promote walkability, mixed-use development, and more attractive streetscapes.
- Streamlining the development process: Yglesias argues that the development process in many cities is overly complex and bureaucratic, which can make it difficult and expensive to build new housing. By streamlining the process, cities can reduce the cost of development and encourage more construction.
- Land value taxation: Yglesias also suggests implementing a land value tax, which taxes the value of land separately from the value of any structures on it. Iglesias has advocated for the use of land value taxation as a way to capture the value of public investments in infrastructure and other amenities. He believes that land value taxation can help to reduce speculation and promote more efficient use of urban land, while also providing a more equitable way to fund public goods and services.
- Tax incentives: Yglesias recommends offering tax incentives to developers who build affordable housing. This can include property tax abatements, tax credits, or other incentives to encourage developers to build more affordable units.
- Green infrastructure investment: Iglesias supports increased investment in green infrastructure, such as parks, green roofs, and urban forests. He believes that green infrastructure can help to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of urbanization, improve air quality, and provide other benefits such as heat island mitigation and stormwater management.
- Congestion pricing: Iglesias supports congestion pricing as a way to reduce traffic congestion and raise revenue for public transportation. He believes that congestion pricing can help to incentivize drivers to use public transit or carpool, and can reduce the negative environmental impacts of car travel.
- Public transportation investment: Iglesias advocates for increased investment in public transportation, particularly in the form of new rail and bus rapid transit lines. He believes that better public transportation can reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and increase access to jobs and other amenities.
- Housing vouchers: Finally, Yglesias recommends expanding the use of housing vouchers, which provide financial assistance to low-income renters. By making more vouchers available, cities can help ensure that more residents have access to affordable housing.
- Universal basic income: Iglesias has written extensively about the benefits of a universal basic income (UBI), arguing that it could help to reduce poverty and inequality, promote economic mobility, and provide a basic standard of living for all residents.
Overall, Yglesias advocates for a combination of policy solutions to address the affordable housing crisis in comeback cities. By reforming zoning laws, offering tax incentives, and expanding access to housing vouchers, cities can create more affordable housing options and ensure that their economic growth is inclusive and equitable.