Senator Booker Proposes Bill to Curb Exclusionary Zoning

August 9, 2018
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Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) recently introduced the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility and Equity (HOME) Act, which is designed to promote inclusionary zoning policies and improve housing affordability. The bill directs all jurisdictions receiving grants under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to create strategies that increase the supply of housing and ease zoning restrictions that impede development.

According to the bill, these jurisdictions must “demonstrate transformative activities” to reduce barriers to housing development. Those include: authorizing high-density and multifamily zoning, eliminating off-street parking requirements, establishing density bonuses, streamlining permitting processes, removing height limitations, establishing by-right development, relaxing lot size restrictions, taxing vacant land, and allowing accessory dwelling units. The goal is to ensure that at least 20 percent of all new housing units meet affordability requirements.

Booker’s bill also would provide a refundable tax credit to renters on rent paid in excess of 30 percent of their income up to a limit of no more than the fair market rent. Unlike the renters’ credit legislation introduced recently by Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Senator Booker’s bill does not set an explicit income eligibility limit for claiming the credit.

Lastly, the bill establishes a “Rainy Day Savings Program” that would allow renters receiving the credit to defer up to 20 percent into a fund, set up by the Treasury Secretary, to be invested in United States Treasury bills for up to 180 days.