Microblog #84: The times are a-changin’.

Will we soon see an end to the “Hegemony of Single Family”?

Yesterday, Housing Virginia and the Alliance for Housing Solutions hosted an event in Arlington for the HV Board and guests from NOVA. Andrea Brennan, Director of Housing Policy and Development for the City of Minneapolis, presented on Minneapolis 2040—the groundbreaking comprehensive plan ends exclusive single-family zoning in the city. Minneapolis, like many cities, has a problem. It may be growing, but its affordable housing is shrinking.

Minneapolis has a deceptively easy answer to this problem: Build more housing. Along with allowing up to three units in once single-family only zones (within the permitted structure footprint), the plan will also dramatically expand areas where multifamily is permitted by-right. Combined with reduced parking requirements, the city hopes to spur significant new, high-density development along its transportation corridors—some of which are currently lined with single-family homes. The Arlington crowd applauded this approach for their community, where small homes now regularly fetch over $1 million.

Just as importantly, the plan was built on a platform of achieving racial equity. Minneapolis is facing the reality that it isn’t the progressive community it imagined itself to be regarding race. A messaging campaign referred to this as Minneapolis’ “little white lie.” In fact, one assessment fueled the plan’s policies by finding that the city was one of the worst in the nation for minority housing opportunities.

What can Virginia’s communities learn from this? Stay tuned—Richmond and other localities are in the middle of planning efforts that will reimagine their communities for the decades ahead.

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