Planners Call for Federal Support for Housing Reform

The nation's housing supply has reached a deficit of nearly 4 million homes, with smaller regions and mid-sized communities being hit the hardest. Zoning reform policies that reflect the need for diverse, attainable, and equitable housing options across the country on every level of government is an important tool to help solve this crisis.

While action on zoning reform is happening on the state level, such as Montana's recent ADU reform, Arizona's missing middle housing, or Colorado's affordable housing solutions, it is imperative to have the support of the federal government to create effective zoning reform changes that lead to better communities for all.

Bipartisan federal action on zoning reform is gaining momentum in Congress, and planners are helping to lead that effort. Planning advocates from across the country shared with APA why federal support for zoning reform is critical to addressing their states' housing challenges:



"Arkansans deserve the freedom to choose what kind of home and neighborhood to live in. Unfortunately, many cities' zoning codes force developers to build only one type of housing - large-lot, car-dependent single-family housing.

This housing is not enough to meet the needs of a diverse country.

There are senior citizens, families, single parents, moderate-income earners, and young professionals who want very different living situations. Zoning codes need to make room for all of these."

Bernadette Rhodes, AICP

Senior regional planner for partnerships and grants, Metroplan


"I have seen firsthand the ability of additional housing supply to improve the affordability of units and the overall quality of life. This extends to my professional life where I see the opportunities for improved quality of life and reduced housing costs for communities nationwide. However, they are often burdened by restrictive zoning codes.

Federal legislation to promote state and municipal reform is a great start to undo decades of damage."

Nathan Davis

Graduate research assistant, Georgia Institute of Technology


"As a planner, I have watched the negative impacts of exclusive zoning practices restrict who can access housing and make it increasingly difficult to build new housing at the rate developers used to because of lot size restrictions, housing type restrictions, and inflexible zoning practices that are frankly archaic.

As a person who has recently moved to the State of Michigan and is a first-time homeowner,

I want to see more housing being developed at a price point that the average Michigander can afford. This is not possible without considerable leadership directing zoning reform at the national and state levels."

Rachel Smith, AICP

Urban Planner II, SmithGroup


"As an AICP professional planner practicing across rural and mid-sized Pennsylvania communities, I have seen first-hand the many ways that current zoning practices in municipalities are overly restrictive and discouraging of missing middle housing types such as manor houses, tri-plexes, accessory dwelling units, and cottage clusters.

The housing crisis is impacting households, communities, and employers alike.

We need federal funding for context-sensitive yet flexible funding for meaningful updates to zoning to allow the private market to deliver better housing solutions."

Mark evans, AICP

Principal, Town Planning Partnership LLC


Top image: Photo by iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Zoe Kaplan is APA's public affairs associate.

May 20, 2024

By Zoe Kaplan