Considering the Cost of Inclusionary Zoning and Resale Restrictions in the District of Columbia

  • Laura K. Gibbons
Keywords: inclusionary zoning, District of Columbia, recapture, resale restrictions, San José, low-income housing


This paper considers the economic impact of the District of Columbia’s Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) affordable housing program, which provides low- and moderate-income families with the option of purchasing housing units below market price. The economic costs imposed by the IZ program include a loss of market surplus and the opportunity cost of capital for low- and moderate-income homebuyers. I evaluate resale restrictions in comparison to the shared equity provision of San José’s IZ program, which allows homebuyers to sell their IZ units at market rates, retain the appreciation value of any improvements to the home, and refund the difference between the two to the San José city government, reducing the loss in market surplus and allowing homebuyers to retain an appreciable asset. I recommend that the DC IZ program relax its permanent resale restrictions and adopt the San José “recapture” model to reduce housing market losses to the benefit of both IZ homebuyers and the DC community as a whole.

Author Biography

Laura K. Gibbons

Laura Gibbons is a second-year Master of Public Policy student at the George Washington University, focusing on social policy in education and urban issues. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and English from Bucknell University and completed a year of AmeriCorps service in Philadelphia before relocating to the District of Columbia. Laura has been living in DC for the greater part of seven years, working as a defense contractor for the US Navy. Laura continues to work full time while pursuing her MPP and attempts to take advantage of the many extracurricular learning activities that GW and the Trachtenberg School have to offer. This is her first scholarly publication, and she is honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute to Policy Perspectives. After graduation, Laura plans to embark on a career in public service by pursuing federal service opportunities.

The author would like to thank the Policy Perspectives editorial team, particularly her Associate Editor Megan Wolfe, for their dedication to this project, their fresh eyes, and their extremely helpful insights into the article throughout the review phase. She would also like to thank her faculty reviewer, Professor Leah Brooks, for taking the time out of her schedule to offer input and suggest areas of improvement, both of which have had an influence on the final product. She would like to offer special thanks to Professor Gerald Brock, who taught her the importance of considering the economic costs of all policy choices, even the most well-meaning. Finally, she would like to thank her parents and her partner Greg for their continued support of all her pursuits, academic and otherwise.