Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Policies for Action Program, this series of reports explore the role of law in housing equity and exploring innovative uses of law to improve health equity through housing.
This draft memo, prepared by Angus Corbett, addresses the question of how local governments can enforce housing codes to enable low-income tenants to live in safe and healthy housing. It reviews the market for low-cost rental housing and provides an outline of the “dynamics” of this market. The memo identifies three models in use for enforcing housing codes: the “deterrence” model, the strategic code enforcement model and a meta-regulation model.
Inclusionary zoning laws can serve as a mechanism to provide more housing opportunities by requiring or incentivizing developers to set aside a certain portion of new developments for affordable housing, and are designed to provide more affordable rental and/or owner-occupied housing for low to moderate-income individuals and families. Developers can sometimes meet the requirement by building affordable units off-site or pay into an affordable housing fund. Incentives for developers include expedited permitting, density bonuses, and zoning variances.
For public health, concerns about nuisance property ordinances are important, both because of the general importance of stable housing to personal and family health and because of the particularly severe consequences of eviction. Although other laws may protect the housing rights of domestic violence survivors, the fact that the main housing laws so rarely protect victims of domestic violence is concerning, purely on the level of legal doctrine and public policy.