WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden is seeking to ease a national affordable housing shortage by pushing local governments to allow apartment buildings in neighborhoods that are currently restricted to single-family homes.
The $5 billion plan could inject the White House into a debate pitting older homeowners against younger workers seeking to gain a foothold in the most expensive U.S. cities, where many families spend a third or more of their income on housing.
The proposal, which would provide financial incentives to local governments that change zoning laws restricting many neighborhoods to single-family homes, is an example of the sort of broad social policy changes Democrats are including in Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
Critics of the zoning laws say they drive up housing costs, contribute to urban and suburban sprawl and perpetuate racial segregation.
“It’s an enormous step forward,” said Richard Kahlenberg, a housing expert at the Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank. “Very few politicians have taken the next step to propose something really meaningful to change the system.”
The infrastructure bill would need to pass the narrowly Democratic-controlled Congress, where Republicans are already attacking it as not focused on roads and bridges.
Zoning laws were rare in the United …read more