Seattle's city planners have allowed developers to build more densely in exchange for affordable housing.

As rents rise faster than incomes and populations grow to an all-time high, many city planners have turned to “upzoning” proposals, which would allow developers to build more upscale housing than city zoning would otherwise allow as long as low-income housing is included or protected, according to's Shayndi Raice.

According to a New York University Fulman Center study of 11 metropolitan areas, the renter population has grown 6% faster than the rental supply. At the same time, low income renters could only afford 10% of available rental units.

Developers, neighborhood activists, and affordable-housing advocates all disagree on the location and conditions of upzoning.

“Whatever you do with rezoning you are invariably stepping on somebody’s foot,” says Benjamin Dulchin, executive director of the Association of Neighborhood Housing and Development.

New York City has decided that a portion of their housing would be affordable to households making 40% of median income, while other cities, such as Seattle, have chosen 60%.

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