Unlocking the Potential of Missing Middle Housing (2022)

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This report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, part of UC Berkeley, highlights barriers faced by developers working in states that have enabled multiple units to be built on traditionally single-family zoned lots.

Key insights:

The report details that Middle Housing delivers many benefits to communities:

  • Increases racial equity in housing and neighbourhood access
  • Providesentry-level homeownership opportunities
  • Creates lower greenhouse gas emissions per household).

The following developer challenges are highlighted:

  • Design requirements need to be flexible/supportive of missing middle housing;
  • Larger projects of 8-12 units need to be permitted to make projects financially viable; that complicated utility and subdivision rules deter small-scale development;
  • Approval timelines need to be more efficient; and that there is currently a lack of traditional financing tools to create a funding package for projects.

Key recommendations:

  • Introducing development code changes beyond zoning reforms, including updating design requirements and assessing current impact fees and utility requirements
  • Allocate dedicated resources to streamline permitting and approval processes
  • Considering more ambitious land use changes, such as increasing the maximum units that can be developed per lot, to help foster increased missing middle housing development.