Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Presented at: 56th International Making Cities Livable Conference, Portland OR, April 2019.


Low and Moderate Income (LMI) housing is an integral part of Smart Growth planning; however growth boundaries, taken alone, can constrain the supply of available land driving up housing costs. In many states, with more integrated growth management plans, these costs are made up for by incentives for more compact and integrated housing within well served, mixed use town and village centers; however, in Rhode Island the absence of real incentives and the slow pace of local reforms to outdated and exclusionary zoning policies has created some tension between Smart Growth and LMI housing advocates.

In PART I of this study we developed at a way of measuring the smart growth potential of available land in communities throughout the state with particular attention to those towns outside of the Urban Service Boundary. These are often communities that are not served by municipal water and sewer infrastructure. These outlying areas are also among the fastest growing communities in the state and those with the lowest percentage of LMI Housing counting toward the state mandated 10% goal. Land Use 2025’s requirement that all projects in these outlying areas that receive state or federal funding be within identified Growth Centers means that, in some cases, there is a lack of suitable land for the development of the necessary LMI housing. This, coupled with the limited densities and increased costs of providing the needed septic systems, often make the cost of developing LMI housing in these areas prohibitive.

In this study, we will look at the perceived tension between Smart Growth policies, such as those advocated in Land Use 2025 or the more recent RoadMap RI plans, and Fair Share housing legislation, in order identify possible remedies. Many of these issues are being taken up as part of the “RoadMAP RI” planning process; however, to the extent that part one of this study helped inform and advance the discussion of Growth Center planning in the state, this current effort will help ensure that we are more proactive in addressing important role of more integrated and diverse housing choices for all of the state’s inhabitants. This is critical to ensure expanding opportunities for those trapped in the cycle of poverty that has become entrenched in urban areas where concentrations of our nation’s most needy populations remain a persistent and costly challenge.

Included in

Architecture Commons