The Expanding Universe of Group Living

As America's affordable housing crisis continues and the gig economy expands, people of all ages are choosing to live together in new and different ways. Disruptors include the price of housing, the ease of forming affinity groups through the internet, flexible and remote live/work arrangements, and the need for intergenerational living to provide child care for parents holding multiple jobs. Planners are challenged to write zoning regulations that accommodate these new living arrangements. Presenters explore local responses and the sometimes unintended impacts of well-intentioned zoning laws. In Denver and other cities, local governments use the Fair Housing Act and legal obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing to regulate congregate and group-living arrangements based on their size, instead of family type or financial arrangements. While some of the groups that benefit may have a right to live together under FHA regulations, others do not. Cities are using the rationale behind the FHA and positive experiences with FHA-protected group homes to open the door to more housing options.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the increasing variety of group-living arrangements — including cooperative living, communes, affinity-group houses, and group homes — that accommodate different lifestyles and make housing affordable.
  • Grasp how the Fair Housing Act provides a powerful tool to change zoning regulations to accommodate these uses, and apply its incidental housing benefits to groups not protected by the Act.
  • Review new legal approaches to group living, including the use of zoning categories that focus on size rather than purpose, to increase equity and inclusion.

The NPC Peer Reviewers assigned this presentation a learning level of Advanced. For more on learning level descriptions visit our General Information Page.