Single-Family Zoning Causes Harm, Manville Says

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville joined Detroit Today to discuss the effect of single-family zoning laws on wealth, access and opportunity. In most cities, the majority of residential land is zoned for single-family housing. By preventing non-single-family homes from being constructed in certain areas, Manville noted that single-family zoning hinders access to wealth for new, younger homebuyers, reinforces segregation and exacerbates issues of housing affordability. “My objection has nothing to do with single-family homes themselves,” Manville explained. “It’s the idea that you can have a law saying that nothing else can be built.” In metropolitan areas undergoing growth, single-family zoning drives up the minimum purchase price to be a part of the community, and this barrier has adverse consequences that fall disproportionately on low-income people and people of color. “Regardless of motivation, keeping these barriers in place causes harm, and we would do some good to remove them,” Manville concluded.


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