Housing Coalition Says Louisville Should Change Zoning Laws

Officials with the Metropolitan Housing Coalition say lawmakers should consider changing zoning laws to embrace new residential patterns that have emerged, which could consequently have a positive impact on public education outcomes. 

It can be controversial to change zoning laws, says MHC executive director Cathy Hinko.

“You own property, you’re kind of afraid of change, rightfully so. You want to be convinced that it’s the logical thing to do, it’s in the best interest of you, your family, your community,” she says.

But implementing the right zoning laws has helped communities create diversity by offering more affordable housing in more neighborhoods, Hinko argues.

The MHC’s annual State of Metropolitan Housing report shows the number of renters in the 13-county area assessed climbed to nearly 40 percent. Homeownership dropped to 63 percent in the region, which is an all-time low since MHC started tracking the data in 2003.

But in Jefferson County, around 80 percent of residential land isn’t open to multifamily units, like apartment buildings, Hinko says.

Louisville should use this information to drive changes that could include allowing more multifamily and mixed-use housing around the city, she says, adding reworking zoning laws would create better diversity and this could help improve public education.

Montgomery County, Maryland has been touted for its zoning law, which requires a certain amount of affordable housing be built in larger developments. Other reports (like this one from the Brookings Institute) show how zoning laws relate to access to better achieving schools. 

As WFPL reported last month, where someone a family lives in Jefferson County could impact their access to better performing schools, depending the family participation level in the school choice system.