The city of Durham, North Carolina, took measures earlier this month and amended ordinances to allow for higher density, “undoing decades-old vestigaes” of discrimination that have prevented African-Americans from owning homes.
The ordinance, known as “Expanding Housing Choices,” amends zoning rules in areas near downtown to allow for higher density. City and county planners believe this could stabilize home prices as the market grows.
These areas have been zoned for single-family housing since the 1960s, but the new ordinance would allow duplexes, triplexes, and accessory dwelling units. The report from Indy Week, says the city hopes this amendment—coupled with a $95 million affordable housing bond—will keep prices in check.
The Durham County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider these zoning changes at its September 23 meeting.
According to the report, the planners say the city has a lagging housing stock that hasn’t kept us with population and job growth. Durham’s population has grown by more than 40,000 people since 2010, to 310,045, as of last year.
The planning department noted that a home that sold for $160,000 five years ago now sells for more than $245,000.
Durham joins a number of other markets that are making the move away from single-family markets in favor of higher density.
A study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) states traditional housing zoning has been seen as a barrier to affordability, and that using policy to promote diversity in housing stick could accommodate a diverse population with varying incomes and needs.
“A fresh round of research continues to point to strict zoning ordinances as impeding supply and affordability in the United States,” the NAHB study states. “Innovative policy shifts that increase the flexibility in land use and the tools available to construct varied housing should be good news for builders, developers, renters and home buyers.”
Oregon’s HB 2001 went into effect on August 8, and mandates that cities with a population of more than or equal to 25,000 to allow middle-housing types on lots previously earmarked for the development of detached single-family housing.
The NAHB states, clarifying the legislation, that the policy does not “outright prohibit” single-family zoning or development in Oregon.
“In fact, the bill should give builders and developers more flexibility and opportunities to build an expanded range of housing types in the state,” the NAHB said.