One-to-One Replacement of Demolished Units

One-to-One Replacement of All Demolished Occupied Units

Requires demolished units must be replaced by units of the same rent and number of bedrooms.

Reaction to public notice of new construction in North Beacon Hill, Seattle (photo by authors)

What's the issue?

For growing cities eager to meet housing demand, new residential developments often replace older, low-density housing. This new development is often intended for newcomers, and therefore caters to their needs. This means that the amount of housing intended for singles or couples increases while housing with enough space for families declines. New housing units are provided at a higher cost than the former housing on that site. As a result, those displaced by demolition and new construction can no longer remain in their neighborhood.

How can one-to-one replacement help?

One-to-one replacement is designed to retain the same amount of housing available to low-income families as there was before new development was constructed. As opposed to inclusionary zoning, which focuses on providing units at an affordable rental level, one-to-one replacement ensures that affordable units can accommodate families with children, and not just singles and couples. This is done by requiring developers to replace the units lost with new units that have the same bedroom count. To ensure that units are not geared toward higher-income buyers or renters, this policy would require that replaced units were offered at a similar affordability as the previous units.

When and where does this policy work best?

This policy works best when a neighborhood or city is experiencing high levels of new construction. This policy would help to capture growth momentum to combat displacement. It also works best when new housing can cross-subsidize the lower rents of the replacement units without requiring additional subsidies. This policy is designed for early to middle-stage gentrification, when there are still enough residents in the community that want to stay there, and when most displacement is happening because of demolition and resulting new construction.

Works best for neighborhoods in early to middle-stage gentrification

Works best when neighborhoods have...

When and where does this policy work best?

Developers may push back against this policy because requiring certain sized units at low prices will mean the developer may have to spend more upfront while receiving less revenue.  However, given the tightness of housing markets in many growing neighborhoods, it is unlikely that developers will lose money on these projects, even if they make less overall.