A recent study by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning Department assistant professor Michael Lens and associate professor Paavo Monkkonen is part of a new White House publication. The Housing Development Toolkit outlines barriers to housing development and includes a list of actions that state and local governments can use to “promote healthy, responsive, high-opportunity housing markets, despite the common and sometimes challenging political barriers to reform and improvement.”

“Inclusion in this publication demonstrates both the timeliness and relevance of the work our Luskin researchers do,” said Lois Takahashi, interim dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

The Luskin study, “Do Strict Land Use Regulations Make Metropolitan Areas More Segregated by Income?” was originally published in the Journal of the American Planning Association and is referenced in the toolkit addressing local barriers to housing development that affect affordability for working families. Lens and Monkkonen urged that density restrictions be removed because they drive urban segregation.

Lens and Monkkonen found that inherent local planning problems can be alleviated somewhat by regional and state efforts. “State governments are well-positioned to push cities to build more housing — especially cities that try to exclude types of housing affordable to lower-income households,” Monkkonen said.

In addition, the researchers pointed out that “efforts to force wealthier parts of the city to build housing for low-income households, inclusionary housing, have a greater potential to reduce segregation than bringing higher-income households into lower-income parts of the city.”

Lens said of the White House publication, “I think this is a remarkably informed document, and it is great to see that the Obama administration is thinking this way and is motivated to put this information out there." He added that the publication is complementary to HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rules and work, and that recent case law — "Inclusive Communities v. Texas Department of Housing and Community Development — might nudge localities toward relaxing regulations and allowing more multifamily development.

The White House toolkit cites restrictive zoning and land-use regulations as well as a cumbersome approval process as the cause for a slow response to demand for housing across the United States. It also highlights beneficial practices already in use across the country as well as potential starting points for bringing housing planning and development in line with 21st century needs.