affordable housing
Affordable housing in the suburbs is an important smart growth strategy for multiple reasons. It can advance racial integration, reduce concentrated poverty and its social fallout, enhance welfare-to-work efforts, reduce traffic, and improve regional growth.   While there is no single correct strategy, affordable housing must be a part of any comprehensive smart growth agenda. This following are some of the more promising strategies:

1. Disperse Affordable Housing Throughout a Region 
This approach is highly effective in mitigating the social problems of concentrated poverty (crime, drugs, welfare dependency, poor educational performance). But it is politically controversial and difficult to implement. Many suburban towns have adopted zoning and development agreements that effectively bar affordable housing. Furthermore, developers themselves are not eager to build affordable housing because it tends to be much less profitable. 

Case Example:

· Chicago:  In a much-cited social experiment, the residents of the Gautreaux public housing project in Chicago were given the option to move to low-crime, predominantly white, middle-class housing, using vouchers. Their rate of social, personal and educational improvement was dramatic. Not only do the families involved benefit, the city proper can avoid the terrible costs of concentrated poverty 

2. Inclusionary Housing Programs.
One way that communities can boost their stock of affordable housing is by requiring developers to include a given share of it as a condition for approval of construction. To compensate for building lower-priced units or lower profits, municipalities grant the developer "density bonuses" (allowing them to build more units per acre) or permitting favors that speed construction. 

Case Example:

· Rockville, Maryland: Rockville, Maryland adopted an inclusionary ordinance in 1990 which requires all subdivisions of 50 or more dwellings units to include moderately priced units. Some of the provisions call for a) specified proportion of the proposed units must be moderately priced, with a sliding scale of optional density increases for a higher percentage of moderately-priced units, and b) an option for developer construction of such housing, including land transfers to public or semi-public housing agencies and contributions to a public housing trust fund. 

3. Mixed-Use Zoning as a Way to Increase Affordable Housing.
More compact, mixed-use zoning in cities is one way to encourage a greater diversity of housing options, and thus more affordable housing. Under this scheme, diverse sorts of development -- commercial and residential together -- are permissible under zoning codes. 

Case Example:

· Hillsboro, Oregon:  The city of Hillsboro is implementing a mix of uses in its four light-rail station communities by adopting 12 new zones applicable only to light-rail areas. Five zones are primarily residential; three are primarily commercial; two are primarily industrial; and two are applicable to large institutional areas specific to Hillsboro. Nine of the 12 zones allow a mix of residential and commercial uses, either within the same building or free-standing. Commercial uses in the residential zones are limited in the range of uses and square footage, with the intent to serve mainly the surrounding residents or pedestrian customers using light-rail.

4. Tax and Mortgage Policy Incentives
There are ways to help spur home ownership through tax and mortgage policies that help first-time buyers, low-income citizens, people of color, transit-users (who save about $500 month for each car they forgo), energy-savers and owners who work at home. Tax breaks can be given for rehabilitation and expansion of occupied and abandoned homes, which can help maintain imperiled neighborhoods as well as to keep up the housing supply. 

Case Example:

· First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, Washington, D.C.: After a thirty year decline in population, the District of Columbia recently passed the $5,000 Homebuyer Credit Act to help replenish the city's population and, in turn, its taxpayer base.  Unlike some other tax incentives, it applies to buyers in any D.C. neighborhood, not just economically distressed areas. 

The act offers a $5,000 tax credit incentive to first-time District homebuyers. The credit applies to purchases completed from Aug. 5, 1997, until Dec. 31, 2000 and is for one-time use only. A single taxpayer with modified adjusted gross income of less than $70,000 is eligible for the entire $5,000 tax credit. The credit phases out between $70,000 and $90,000 in modified adjusted gross income. Joint filers are eligible for the entire credit with modified adjusted gross income of less than $110,000; the benefit phases out between $110,000 and $130,000. Unmarried taxpayers who purchase a residence jointly are allowed to split the credit. 

 Location Efficient Mortgage
The Location Efficient Mortgage (LEM) is a new mortgage lending opportunity created  by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Surface Transportation Policy Project.  The LEM takes advantage of the “hidden asset” of transit density in urban neighborhoods to encourage homeownership and promote increased transit ridership.With a LEM mortgage, lenders are allowed to recognize the savings made by a household whose primary means of transportation is public transit rather than the private automobile. Thus lenders can "stretch" their standard debt-to-income ratio, ensuring that more low- and moderate-income families, first time homeowners and dedicated transit users can obtain mortgages, or larger mortgages than they otherwise would quality for.  Fannie Mae, the nation’s largest supplier of homeownership capital is sponsoring the $100 million LEM underwriting experiment in a Chicago market test.  To learn more about this program, please visit the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

David Bollier, How Smart Growth Can Stop Sprawl, a Briefing Guide for Funders.(Washington, D.C.: Essential Books), 1998
 Douglas Porter, Managing Growth in America's Communities, p.178.
 Myron Orfield, Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Community and Stability
 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1997), p.79
 Orfield, Metropolitics, p. 80.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research," Mixed Income Housing (Vol. 3, No. 2, 1977).
 E-amicus, Fall 1996.
 Seattle Times, April 20, 1997.