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“Inclusionary Zoning” is a terrible bit of government jargon that makes you want to bury your head. But don’t think of it like that. Embrace “inclusionary zoning,” and remember its name. It could help you—-yes you mid-level non-profit worker, DCPS teacher and thrifty secretary—-land your first condo in a building full of lawyers, consultants, and lobbyists (sorry for the default stereotypical rich people careers).

After years of discussion, debate, and moaning about missed deadlines, inclusionary zoning went into effect last week. Here’s what it is in a nutshell (according to the Washington Examiner)

The law requires housing developments consisting of more than 10 units to set aside between 8 and 10 percent to be affordable to residents with low and moderate incomes.The policy, called “inclusionary zoning,” is practiced by hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide, including Montgomery, Fairfax and Arlington counties locally.

“Low to moderate incomes” is not exactly correct though.  As I’ve written about in the past, the city has long forced developers to sell some condos at affordable prices. One woman who recently purchased a below market rate condo on 14th Street paid $234,000 for a one-bedroom unit. She met the requirement of making between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income.

Before inclusionary zoning, which went into effect on Friday,  there was no clear framework about how to market those “inexpensive” units. Under the new rules, there should be more transparency:*

Under the new rules—which are supposed go into effect by early fall—the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will review all buyers who register with the agency to see if they meet “certain income and household-size eligibility requirements.”

Then DHCD will notify registered people when lotteries occur. In addition, developers will be required to list their affordable units on a city Web site, dchousingsearch.org. The city will also “contract with a community-based organization to assist with outreach, housing counseling/education,” Madigan writes.

*This is from my article “The City Forces Developers to Sell Cheap Condos. But Can You Find Them?”