Kitchen and living space in small studio apartment at Freedom Center, Portland.

Studio apartment at Freedom Center, Portland. Photo courtesy of Freedom Center.

Affordable housing is lacking across the Northwest, with housing policy here effectively excluding from the market many lower-cost options for low-income families and individuals. A raft of outdated laws bans the types of residential arrangements that once housed most of the North American working class—rooms that were safe, comfortable, and convenient but small and basic.

As a result, families may scrimp on food or heat to be sure they can pay rent each month; they may opt for black-market housing; or they may even go homeless. Everyone deserves a clean, safe place to live; but beyond safety regulations, not everyone needs or desires a floor plan up to the middle-class standards mandated by housing rules. In this series, Alan Durning explores the key laws that prevent smart, affordable housing arrangements of the past from getting to market today, and he looks to a Northwest revival of inexpensive housing options.

Legalizing Inexpensive Housing articles