How to Increase Housing Affordability: Understanding Local Deterrents to Building Multifamily Housing
An important way to ensure low rents and low house prices is to increase the housing supply, which in land-constrained metropolitan areas involves constructing denser forms of housing such as smaller single-family homes and multifamily apartment buildings. Land-use regulations are among the local barriers that are crucial in determining the location, amount, and type of new housing construction. Most of the research on the subject examines the effects of individual regulations on the supply and prices of single-family homes; however, this study looks at how different zoning regulations interact with each other to affect the supply of various types of housing and the prices of single-family homes and rents for multifamily apartments. This paper focuses on three regulations and their interactions: multifamily zoning, maximum-height restrictions, and density restrictions that determine the number of housing units that can be built on an acre of land. The authors use a novel, lot-level land-use-regulation zoning atlas that includes the 101 cities and towns of Greater Boston, and it employs an empirical strategy that studies effects at regulation boundaries with discontinuous jumps in the size and type of housing due to different types of zoning regulations.