"Promoting housing affordability by combating exclusionary housing policies"


CFC # 41863 (Combined Federal Campaign) 

Summer law clerks write extensive reports on aspects of controlling regulatory barriers
to affordable housing nationwide, as EHI plans comprehensive report

EHI's three law clerks for summer 2012 focused on evaluating the need for better legal protection of housing opportunities affordable to low- and moderate-income Americans. 
Ryan Frazee (Georgetown University Law Center Class of '14) worked full-time, producing extensive memoranda that summarized the results to date of –
  • Judicial decisions that have declared rights of low- and moderate-income Americans to the opportunity for adequate, affordable housing. (Examples are the Mount Laurel I & II decisions in New Jersey, and judicial decisions in California and New York);  
  • statutory programs that provide voluntary incentives to landowners and developers to produce more affordable housing (for example, in Minnesota, California, New York City and Seattle); and
  • statutes that provide for an override by a state agency of local land use actions (or inactions) that deny or unduly burden meritorious proposals to develop affordable housing (for example, in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon). 
Victoria Cheshire and Emily Kornfeld (both of George Mason University School of Law Class of '14), worked part-time and produced extensive memoranda on key factors in evaluating the need. Ms. Kornfeld documented how unwarranted local land use restrictions and burdens have led to unnecessarily sprawling development and its consequences – including extreme commuting problems, excessive fuel consumption, unnecessary levels of road building, air pollution and other environmental problems.
Ms. Cheshire showed how a wide variety of regulatory barriers raise housing prices a great deal, in many major American metropolitan areas, and adversely affect housing markets. The barriers she discussed include unnecessary zoning restrictions, subdivision controls, up-front development impact fees, and high property taxes. She also documented the relative success that the Houston, Texas, area has had in keeping housing affordable (building on an outline by former EHI law clerk Robyn Burrows (George Mason University School of Law Class of '12). That area happens to be the only major metropolitan area in the United States that does not engage in zoning or central planning. 
The work of EHI's law clerks, past and present, will help form the basis for EHI’s planned comprehensive report on ways to improve better legal protection of opportunities for low- and moderate-income Americans to access housing that is affordable. For more on the work of EHI's law clerks, CLICK HERE