Nebraska gets its upzone on

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The Cornhusker State has seen tremendous growth and it’s facing, stop me if you’ve heard this before, a housing crisis.

In the smoking hot city of Omaha, the price of single-family homes shot up 41 percent from 2012 to 2019; in Lincoln, the increase was 34 percent.

“We need more of it, whether you call it affordable housing or workforce housing,” state Senator Matt Hansen says. “We’re growing all across the state at a rate where we’re having trouble keeping up with the number of [housing] units needed.”

In a move that’s rare in politics, the Nebraska state legislature is trying to stop it before it gets any worse. A state legislative committee heard arguments about a number of bills designed to lower housing costs by lifting local bans on duplex homes, triplexes, and townhouses.

This move is known as upzoning. This move is similar to both the Virginia proposal that died a cold death in committee in January, and California’s bill, which also flatlined several times in Sacramento. Officials in Maryland, Washington, and other states are currently weighing similar zoning reforms.

If passed Nebraska would become the second state behind Oregon to get its upzone on.

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