Structural Inequities in Land Use and Housing

Land Use Research
Contact: Nicholas Julian
Senior Program Manager, Land Use
(202) 266-8309

Housing, be it owned or rented, leads to significant life benefits, such as financial stability and freedom, reduced stress, improved health, increased school attendance and performance for children, and long-term economic growth. Homeownership in particular is a primary source of net worth, with Americans holding over $18.7 trillion of equity in their homes as of 2019. For many Americans, their home is the primary source of lifetime wealth and generational wealth.

The path to homeownership, however, has not been equal to all. Housing segregation and racial structural inequity in housing is a fact, perpetuated by both public and private actors. There is overwhelming evidence that much of the housing equity divide was effectuated through various federal, state and local government policies. Although important civil rights laws, such as the Fair Housing Act, have certainly helped to combat historical and ongoing discrimination, local exclusionary land use regulations in particular continue to create inequity in housing.

NAHB aims to protect the ability to live in property free from discrimination and to ensure that all individuals have equal access to housing.

NAHB’s Land Development Committee, in response to the unequal distribution of the benefits of homeownership across the country, is taking a closer look at the issue. The committee formed a Structural Inequities in Land Use Working Group in 2020 to research and promote awareness of the decades of harmful land use and housing policy. NAHB, the Land Development Committee and the Structural Inequities Working Group support a development environment that promote all types of housing available to all people at all income levels.

NAHB has resources that generally address issues of housing affordability and creating housing for all, and research that can help identify policies that promote or impede housing opportunity and affordability. The resources listed below can be used to assist during all phases of project development and to educate public and private stakeholders. NAHB’s Creating Housing for All Toolkit contains more resources and case studies on tackling the housing affordability crisis in communities across the country.

The Structural Inequities in Land Use Working Group aims to add to these resources in the future by focusing directly on the issue of racial structural inequity and to identify how the building industry can play a part in levelling home opportunity for all.

Promoting Housing Diversity and Affordability

Regulatory Barriers to Affordability 

Structural Inequities Webinar NAHB convened a panel to discuss how housing advocates are proposing to revise state zoning laws to reduce segregation. Check out a replay of the webinar to learn more.