Joe Biden and others on the left believe increasing the inventory of houses Americans can afford requires putting more residences in already existing neighborhoods, including changing zoning laws to allow multiple units on single-family home lots. Biden also wants fewer people driving cars, which fits the leftist narrative that to achieve social justice and save the planet, people should live in dense, mixed-income neighborhoods, and use public transportation. Quartz reports on Biden’s efforts to advance his housing and transportation agenda as a positive development, including bypassing the legislative process: After centrists in Congress killed his Build Back Better bill aimed at addressing housing affordability, Biden is now finding ways to fix the problem without the legislature’s help. He’s proposing expanding federal financing for affordable housing and to offer more grants from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to localities that pass denser zoning laws. He also wants more housing that’s made up of manufactured parts instead of being built onsite. Earlier this year, Biden’s DOT awarded three grants worth a total of $6 billion to localities that promoted density with better land-use policies.
The denser housing not only fits more homes into the same space, but by pairing transportation funding with affordable housing requirements, the government ensures that the new transit lines would be built for the people who would most use them, said Yonah Freemark, a researcher at the Urban Institute, a D.C. think tank.
The article notes that other presidents have also used financial incentives to influence housing policies and to change zoning laws at the state level, but Biden’s plan, if implemented, would represent the largest amount of federal funds designated to “encourage denser zoning.” Some states are pushing their own plans to generate more housing by adding units to single-family home neighborhoods, including California. In 2021, the state passed a law to allow two-unit buildings on single-family home lots. Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.
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