What’s Next in Inclusionary Zoning

Last month, the DC Zoning Commission voted to strengthen the city’s Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) program in ways that will create thousands of affordable housing units throughout the city and increase economic diversity in DC neighborhoods. To make sure these changes go into effect as soon as possible, the DC Council should swiftly pass needed implementing legislation, and the Bowser administration should quickly issue new regulations.

Our recent blog highlights the changes coming to IZ as a result of Zoning Commission’s decision. Here are the next steps in making the approved changes a reality.

  • The Zoning Commission amends the zoning code. The Zoning Commission will work with zoning and legal staff to finalize language amending the zoning code. The amendment will be published in the DC Register for a 30-day public review period. Technical corrections to the language may be made during that time. On September 12th, the Zoning Commission will vote to adopt the final amendment into the zoning code.
  • The Council needs to pass legislation aligning DC law with the approved zoning changes. Next, a part of the DC law, which specifies how agencies will enforce and administer the IZ program, needs to be amended to match the zoning code. Legislation to do that will likely be introduced soon after the Council returns from its summer recess on September 20th, and should gain broad support: last year, the Council unanimously passed a resolution last year calling for strengthening IZ’s affordability.
  • The Mayor needs to issue revised IZ regulations. The Bowser administration will issue revised administrative regulations for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which manages the IZ program. The Bowser administration should act quickly to do this, because once those regulations are finalized, the new IZ rules are officially in effect and DHCD will start matching low-income families with the new IZ units through its lottery system.

Once these steps are taken, new residential developments will provide truly affordable IZ rental units. Almost every new residential development in DC – including those in high-cost neighborhoods near job opportunities, public transit, and good schools – will be required to include some apartments affordable to low-income families, those at or below 60 percent of the area median income, or $52,000 for a family of two. (Developments that were still under construction or close to breaking ground when the new rules went into effect, will be allowed to comply with the old rules.) IZ will generate over 2,600 low-cost apartments over the next five to 10 years, based on the pace of new development which has climbed to a 25-year high.