Tennessee lawmakers are moving toward blocking mandatory affordable housing rules.
They hope to prevent cities in Tennessee, including Nashville, from requiring developers to include affordable units in construction projects.
San Diego, New York and Boulder, Colorado, are among the dozens of U.S. cities that have required affordable housing. Nashville has talked about mandating affordable housing to help even middle-income people as home prices in the city soar.
Supporters of so-called “inclusionary zoning,” like state Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, say the rules restore some balance to the housing market.
“If I wanted to build an affordable housing unit in Belle Meade, there would be plenty of zoning restrictions that would stop me,” he says. “There are currently no zoning restrictions that would force me to set aside affordable housing across the state.”
On the other side are lawmakers who say affordable housing mandates actually drive up prices by making it harder to build. They say cities should focus on offering developers incentives and other perks, not adding more regulations.
Tennessee senators voted 26-3 to approve
Senate Bill 1636, which blocks inclusionary zoning mandates. But the measure’s sponsor, state Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, noted nothing in the legislation prohibits cities from rewarding builders who include affordable units.
“That’s free market.”
In the push to create more affordable housing, Haile says it’s better to offer the carrot of incentives than the stick of regulations.