Could The Fair Housing Act Be Used To Abolish Restrictive Zoning?

[Originally published by Forbes]


In the debate on how to solve the urban housing affordability issue, there is a theoretical side and a political side. On the theoretical side, a growing bipartisan cluster of journalists, academics, business people, and even the president himself has concluded that zoning and other land use regulations increase housing costs, and must be reformed or abolished. But politically speaking, such deregulation is unlikely, since these regulations are enforced at local level, where they are preserved by homeowners who benefit from restricting the housing supply. As a result, there have been calls for states and the federal government to intervene, using various carrots and sticks to encourage local-level reform. One of the more provocative recent ideas is to use the Fair Housing Act, with its “disparate impact” clause, as a cudgel against regulations that disproportionately hurt low-income minorities…[read the rest at Forbes]