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A Realization in Fairfax About Traffic and Housing
· Enact land-use regulations, such as inclusionary zoning and density bonuses, that motivate developers to provide below-market-rate dwellings as part of larger, market-rate, mixed-use projects. This approach, which in effect reduces land cost allocable to such units, should be aimed mostly at projects accessible to both transit and employment.
· Subsidize workforce-housing production by providing publicly owned land at a discount or even at no cost to nonprofit developers, or to public-private partnerships committed to building workforce housing. Tax abatement could be an additional form of subsidy. These subsidized developments likewise should be near transit and employment.
· Encourage business organizations and institutions to sponsor and invest in development of transit-accessible workforce housing for employees.
· Promote and fund research and development efforts leading to innovative housing designs, building materials and construction technologies, all of which must be both sustainable and cost-effective.
· Reduce housing development costs by easing or eliminating unnecessarily onerous regulatory requirements and procedures.
Yet given the increasing scope of the problem, all of these approaches may prove marginal without greater investment in public transit.
Workforce housing production and public transportation must become much higher-priority issues for not only states, counties and municipalities, but also the nation. Until that happens, the intersection of traffic and workforce housing will remain hopelessly gridlocked.
Roger K. Lewis is a practicing architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland.