PDX to Invest $150,000 in Failed Housing Policy

Portland’s policy of Inclusionary Zoning makes housing less affordable for families.

By Vlad Yurlov

For Portland’s housing policy, failure isn’t an option. Of course, some policies are downright damaging, but bureaucrats often refuse to admit failure. For instance, Inclusionary Zoning is a policy that requires new apartments with more than 20 units to make a percentage of them affordable to low-income households. The policy also pushes for more affordable family-sized units.

Since the program began in 2017, Inclusionary Zoning only accounted for 237 units. And less than 15% of its affordable units were built for families. A nonprofit organization called Up For Growth rang the alarm bells back in 2019. Its research found that Inclusionary Zoning was reducing high-density housing and had stopped new projects from being attempted. Furthermore, “it raises the cost of housing for middle income families who are not eligible for the few units available.”

Blocking the housing pipeline and increasing the cost of housing is a resounding failure. But, Portland is planning to study Inclusionary Zoning with another $150,000 of tax money. We didn’t vote to rearrange chairs on the Titanic. Portland needs the maturity to acknowledge failure.

Vlad Yurlov is a Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.