Bill blocks affordable housing mandates

Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Ferrell Haile have introduced a bill that would prohibit local governments from requiring that affordably-priced homes be included in new residential projects, reports The Tennessean.

Tennessee already has a law that says local municipalities can’t control the cost of rent. Whether that restricts local governments from adopting a zoning policy that mandates affordable housing units be included in new apartment projects has been debated.

Casada’s bill would erase any doubt by explicitly prohibiting local governments from enacting affordable housing mandates over rental properties as well as for-sale homes.

“I would contend that wherever they’re implemented, it drives homebuilders out of that community and thus it drives up the cost of homes,” Casada said of the local policies that he wants to ban. “What we’re trying to do is to stop the inflated pricing and structure and let the free market continue to work. The free market can solve the problems, not government.”

Though the bill (HB1632) appears to be directed foremost at Nashville, Casada said the legislation is a response to “a movement nationwide” of cities requiring that developers pursue affordable or workforce housing. Casada, who said his effort has support of chambers of commerce and others in the business community, called the legislation one of his “top-tier bills” that he hopes to pass this legislative session.

“Everyone who has read Tennessee law feels like Nashville, or any other community, cannot do this,” he said of mandatory inclusionary zoning. “We’re just making it very clear that they cannot.”