Ann Arbor's downtown zoning code had not been updated in a decade. To meet current needs and priorities, I successfully championed policies that more aggressively incentivize real estate developers to incorporate affordable housing into their projects.
In Michigan, the two most direct tools to create affordable housing, inclusionary zoning and rent control, are illegal. However, in 2018, the State Legislature permitted municipalities to incentivize developers to include affordable units into their residential projects. Monitoring this legislation, I immediately launched an initiative to assess and amend our downtown zoning codes to better encourage the inclusion of affordable housing in market-rate construction.
Over the next six months, I worked with city planners, private developers, Planning Commission members, and the public to redesign the laws that shape downtown. These reforms removed easy-to-achieve incentives and provided developers three tiers of increasing density, each requiring increasing amounts of affordable housing units. Alternatively, developers may contribute to the Ann Arbor Affordable Housing Fund in lieu of constructing a portion of the housing units. Historically, the City has been able to leverage these dollars 20-25x through various state and federal programs, magnifying the impact of these funds.
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