Case Study: Inclusionary Zoning in Washington D.C.

April 2019

Inclusionary zoning (IZ) has grown in popularity in U.S. cities throughout the last several decades. According to a study conducted by the Urban Land Institute, inclusionary zoning policies allow cities to “encourage developers to create below-market rental apartments or for-sale homes in connection with the local zoning approval of a proposed market-rate development project” (Williams, Carlton, Juntunen, Picha, & Wilkerson, 2016). Supporters of IZ programs view the approach as a unique and innovative tool to incentivize the production of affordable housing units in the private market. Incentives vary from city to city and can include options such as “direct subsidies, tax abatements, density bonuses, and reduced parking requirements” (Williams et al., 2016). As a policy tool, IZ is politically attractive since incentives are often framed as regulatory concessions by the government rather than direct monetary transfers from taxpayers to private developers.