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Emily Hamilton

Articles by Emily Hamilton

Emily Hamilton on WTOP – WMATA

December 15, 2020

The DC Metro’s ridership is way down due to the pandemic, and they’re considering cutting service. Emily Hamilton has a better idea. Listen on SoundCloud.

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What’s a Stickplex?

October 2, 2020

Behold the stickplex: a multifamily dwelling built with cheap materials that uses 2,500 square feet of land or less per unit. For jurisdictions aiming at liberalization and housing affordability, stickplexes could be a game changer. Read more at Market Urbanism.

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The Politics of Redevelopment Planning in Tysons and Outcomes 10 Years Later

July 13, 2020

Policymakers in Fairfax County, Virginia, passed an ambitious redevelopment plan for the Tysons area in 2010, in anticipation of a new Metrorail line, hoping to transform a suburban, car-oriented area into a walkable, transit-oriented downtown. Notably, the plan reformed zoning rules to allow for much more development, especially the construction of high-rise multifamily housing, in this wealthy suburban community on the outskirts of Washing­ton, DC.
In “The Politics of Redevelopment Planning in Tysons and Outcomes 10 Years Later,” Emily Hamilton finds that the Tysons area has been more successful in its progress toward the goal of housing construction than the goal of walkability.
Good Progress Toward the Residential Construction Objectives in Tysons
The shortage of housing in the places

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Quick Reads: Mixed News for Urban Transportation in the Surface Transportation Bill

June 22, 2020

Last week, following a long markup session, the House Surface Transportation Bill passed on a party-line voice vote. The current version has little chance of being adopted by the Senate, but both chambers will have to develop a compromise in order to reauthorize surface transportation spending. The bill includes major increases in transit spending relative to highway spending. But beyond the headline numbers, the marked-up bill includes amendments that would both help and harm urban transportation.
One of these amendments includes language similar to the Build More Housing Near Transit Act, which Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced last year. This language would require the Federal Transit Administration to consider land use policy for the location where transit would be built

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Allowing Accessory Dwelling Units Would Contribute to Housing Affordability in Virginia

January 23, 2020

Chair Heretick and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me here today to comment on the important issues of accessory dwelling units and land use regulations more generally. I’m Emily Hamilton. I’m a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I study housing affordability and land use regulations in the Mercatus Center’s Urbanity Program. Today, I have three key points to make on the issue of preempting local prohibitions of accessory dwelling units:
Restrictions on the right to build housing in Virginia are responsible for high housing costs.
Allowing homeowners across the state to build accessory dwelling units would be an important step toward permitting a relatively affordable type of housing to be built.
State policymakers have an important

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Preempting Bans on Duplexes Can Improve Housing Affordability through Property Rights

January 23, 2020

Chair Heretick and members of the subcommittee, thank you for again inviting me to speak. In my testimony on HB 151, I covered the problem of housing affordability in Virginia and the role that local land use regulations play in constraining housing supply and causing high and rising house prices. With respect to HB 152, I have two additional points to make:
Allowing duplexes to be built where only single-family homes are currently allowed has the potential to increase the supply of housing in locations where demand for housing is high and to improve affordability.
Preempting single-family zoning is an appropriate step for state policymakers to take.
Housing Affordability and Duplexes
HB 152 would give property owners across the state the right to build two homes anywhere that local zoning

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Inclusionary Zoning Hurts More Than It Helps

September 23, 2019

Housing affordability is a serious problem across the country. Nationally, most households in the lowest income quintile are extremely rent-burdened, meaning that they spend half or more of their income on rent. In coastal cities, where land use regulations severely limit housing construction, housing costs are a problem for middle-income households as well. In the Bay Area, even households earning $100,000 will struggle to find housing that costs 30 percent or less of their income in most zip codes.
In response to these affordability challenges in both high- and low-cost cities, local governments have adopted inclusionary zoning programs. These policies require or incentivize developers to designate a portion of new housing units as affordable for households making low or moderate incomes

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Expanding Urban Housing Access for Women

March 28, 2019

Until the mid-twentieth century, boarding houses provided a key source of housing for women moving to American cities. They also provided an opportunity for women to earn income by owning and operating boarding houses during a time when they were shut out of many other industries. But since then, zoning rules have outlawed most boarding houses along with other low-cost housing options, eliminating a low rung on the economic ladder for women seeking to begin their careers in urban job centers.
Boarding houses are homes that were built for a single family, or larger purpose-built housing, where guests rent out rooms for a short or long period. You may be familiar with fictional characters who lived in boarding houses, including Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Mattie Ross in

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Cities Should Not Build for Autonomous Vehicles

December 13, 2018

This is the second in a two-part series by Brent Skorup and Emily Hamilton discussing the future of autonomous vehicle infrastructure.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) promise many potential benefits in terms of safety and increasing access to transportation. In an effort to speed the arrival of AVs, some cities are pursuing plans to build "smart streets" that broadcast information about roads and potential hazards to autonomous vehicles. Rather than attempting to design cities to promote AV adoption, cities should recognize that the market for AVs is innovating rapidly and that municipal investments in the industry are likely to be outdated by the time that they’re built. But leapfrogging isn’t the worst potential outcome of smart street investment. Municipal smart streets could further entrench

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Home Sharing Is a Boon to Baltimore

September 24, 2018

Emily Hamilton explains why businesses like Airbnb bring net benefits to Maryland in a recent opinion at the Daily Record.
Read it here: Home sharing is a boon to Baltimore

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New HUD Goals on Local Control, Affordable Housing May Be Incompatible

August 23, 2018

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson has put forward a new plan to roll back the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing policy (AFFH). The AFFH is a tool to withhold federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), funds meant to improve housing conditions for low- and moderate-income people, from jurisdictions that fail to achieve targets for integrating neighborhoods and city services based on race and income. Carson’s stated goal is to both increase local control of land use planning and improve housing affordability. This may be impossible, however, because local development restrictions have created the affordability problems we have today.
AFFH was designed to expand the scope of the Fair Housing Act, a provision of the Civil Rights Act

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