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October 20, 2015

Portland adopts affordable housing requirement for new developments

New housing developments in Portland with at least 10 residential units will now be required to make 10% of the housing units affordable to middle-income earners.

The Portland Press Herald reported that city councilors approved the new inclusionary zoning rule Monday.

The Planning Board recommended against the rule because of concerns it could halt a recent development boom, said Chairwoman Elizabeth Boepple. She said the city should first see how city rents will be impacted by the 862 new housing units that have been approved, are under review or are being built.

Developers can receive incentives, including increased heights and density, and be eligible for tax breaks to offset the costs for the new rule, the Press Herald reported. Or developers can avoid the requirement by paying the city $100,000 for every required affordable unit not built.

A report released in September by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Lincoln Institute of Land Policy said that affordable housing requirements don't drive up market-rate prices. But the report also said that incentives offered to developers can help cities avoid negative economic impacts and legal challenges.

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