One city rethinks affordability by looking at the infill regulations and the building requirements. By shifting the model, they propose a decrease in home prices that will combat displacement, which could be a model for cities nationwide.

Growing cities across the US and Canada are grappling with the challenges of displacement and affordability in their housing markets, and many of them are looking to Cascadia’s innovative cities for answers. Portland, the smallest of Cascadia’s three major metropolitan areas, has perhaps one of its biggest and best ideas: the “residential infill project.”

So, what’s in the Rose City’s innovative plan? First, let’s take a closer look at the city’s growing affordability problem.

Every month, Portland’s most beloved neighborhoods are moving further beyond the reach of typical homebuyers.

Property tax records show the alarming spread, over the last four years, of homes valued at $400,000 or more—enough to make them unaffordable to 59 percent of Portlanders, according to the latest Census estimates.

As the map above makes obvious, the wave of price increases isn’t simply tied to construction or demolition. It’s hitting new houses and old ones, in neighborhoods that are adding homes and in neighborhoods where adding homes isn’t allowed.

But the really odd thing is that on this lot, replacing one middle-class family with one rich one is just about the only thing a landowner is legally allowed to do.

When a city gets more desirable but isn’t allowed to add more places for people to sleep, this is what happens: the old homes don’t stay affordable. They just get priced up and up and up.

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