Retracting suburbia: Smart growth and the future of housing

Document Type



Metropolitan areas throughout the United States increasingly experience sprawl development. States such as Oregon and Maryland have enacted land use legislation that curbs sprawl by promoting denser urban growth. Smart growth, a new method of metropolitan development leading to more compact regions, offers an alternative to sprawl. Given that housing comprises a major share of the built environment, policies that promote denser residential development form a key component of smart growth.

This article provides an analytic review of the ways housing can be used to support successful smart growth policies. It focuses on three areas: the market for higher density housing, land use issues associated with denser housing development, and methods for financing higher density and mixed-use housing. The literature on the link between smart growth and housing remains underdeveloped. We offer this synthesis as a way to advance the state of knowledge on smart growth's housing dimension.


Cities and towns – Growth; City planning; Growth management; Housing; Land use/zoning; Suburbs; Sustainable development; Urban density


Human Geography | Other Geography | Sustainability | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


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