Mercatus Center Awards $25,000 to Virginia Zoning Atlas

Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Virginia Zoning Atlas

HousingForward Virginia has been awarded a $25,000 Grant from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for the Virginia Zoning Atlas.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University, one of the nation’s leading organizations exploring public policy impacts on housing affordability, has awarded HousingForward Virginia a $25,000 grant to support the completion of the Virginia Zoning Atlas.

The Virginia Zoning Atlas is part of ZONED IN, HousingForward Virginia’s initiative to educate about what zoning is and how it impacts housing production and affordability across the Commonwealth.

This financial support allows HousingForward to expand its work to collect zoning data and analyze local ordinances across the whole Commonwealth. Over the coming months, HousingForward will use this information to build and release the Atlas as a free, interactive platform to support research and education on the connections between zoning and housing affordability.

The grant has also enabled HousingForward to provide stipends to five undergraduate interns from Christopher Newport University who will help jumpstart the Hampton Roads portion of the Virginia Zoning Atlas. These students are Audrey Morrison, Layne Marshall, Orson Lange, Robert Bennett, and Stephen Everard.

Robert said of his work as a geospatial analyst: “Working with [HousingForward]… has given me a lot of perspective on how much work needs to be done to make zoning codes more accessible to the average person.”

“I have encountered confusing variations in language, housing types, and online resources which make it all the more clear to me how important it is to make zoning codes accessible to the public,” said Audrey.

Emily Hamilton, Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Urbanity Project at the Mercatus Center, said this of the work:

Across the country, zoning restrictions prevent people from living where their best opportunities are located. Estimates indicate that local land use regulations reduce U.S. output by over $1 trillion annually, yet we don’t know precisely what those regulations are.

The National Zoning Atlas provides a replicable methodology to gather accurate information on the rules that determine what type of housing can be built across all land in a locality, region, or state. Because we recognize the value of this dataset for high-quality research and policy debates, Mercatus has supported the National Zoning Atlas and several state and regional atlases across the country.

With HousingForward leading the Virginia Zoning Atlas, we’re excited to be a part of this project in Mercatus’ home state by providing grant funding and collecting the zoning data for Northern Virginia. We look forward to the research and reform opportunities that will follow this data collection.

We at HousingForward are grateful to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for this partnership. With their financial and research support, the Virginia Zoning Atlas is well on its way to being another invaluable resource for affordable housing partners across the Commonwealth. 

However, much more work will be needed to cover all 38 cities, 95 counties, and 190 towns in the state. This monumental effort still requires additional funding. If you are interested in supporting the Virginia Zoning Atlas, please contact us to learn more.

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