America isn’t building enough homes. A new atlas may fix that.

  • Date: 02/21/2024

The housing shortage may be national, but the problem is local. Where homes get built, how many, what typehow big the lot has to be, how many meetings it takes to build something new — those things are all governed by zoning rules. And every town and village and city zones itself. Which means there are more than 30,000 different sets of zoning rules in America. When it comes to housing, we're a nation of islands, governed by no central authority.

For the first time, a team of researchers is compiling every city's zoning rules into a National Zoning Atlas. That means everyone from policymakers to homeowners will be able to look at their local zoning maps and understand their town's hidden architecture. And maybe, armed with that information, we'll finally be able to remodel America's fixer-upper of zoning policies into a tasteful showcase for starter homes and cheap apartments.

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