Inclusionary Zoning in Oregon

Inclusionary zoning, or inclusionary housing as it is also known, is a land use practice that requires affordable housing units to be built along with market rate housing, typically in new developments.

Inclusionary policies developed in response to so-called “exclusionary zoning” practices that were common throughout much of the 20th century, in which low cost and multi-family housing was banned from many communities.  These practices also often exclude minorities and other members of federally protected classess, perpetuating segregation and even violating fair housing law.

Since 1999, Oregon jurisdictions have been prohibited from enacting mandatory inclusionary policies.  This prohibition was pushed through the Oregon legislature by home-builders and realtors who worried that inclusionary policies would hurt local housing markets.

In reality, inclusionary housing policies are very flexible, and can be formatted to suit the needs of the community and local market:  For example, the number or percentage of units required to be affordable can vary, as can the definition and term of affordability.  There can also be unit thresholds for developments to be impacted by the policy.  And finally, many jurisdictions offer incentives to developers, in the form of expedited permitting, fee waivers, or density bonuses, to help offset the cost of the affordable units.

Inclusionary policies have been successful in creating affordable housing in many different communitiess, particularly in “hot” housing markets where high volumes of development occur.  For this reason, California has been a leader in inclusionary policy, with more than 100 jurisdictions using some form of program to meet their affordable housing needs (NeighborWorks).

By encouraging mixed-income communities, inclusionary policies can help to decentralize poverty.  And by linking the creation of affordable housing with private development, it can be a powerful tool in combating displacement.  This is a concern in Portland as the city gentrifies, in Oregon’s  coastal communities experiencing resort and second home development, and throughout the state as mobile home parks close.

In 2011, Housing Land Advocates joined the Coalition for Affordable and Safe Housing.  This group is working to repeal the State’s ban on inclusionary zoning, and allow Oregon communities access to this important tool for creating affordable housing in areas of opportunity.  In 2011 the Coalition focused its efforts on House Bill 3531, which proposed but was not successful in repealing Oregon’s inclusionary housing ban.




  1. […] Further, many cities have adopted policies to encourage income mixing – like mandating that a certain percent of new units are affordable, using fees charged to developers or issuing bonds to fund affordable housing, and modifying zoning […]

%d bloggers like this: