How Has U+2 Enforcement Affected Housing Affordability in Fort Collins? Using the Synthetic Control Method to Analyze the Affordability Implications of Residential Occupancy Regulation
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In 2007, the City of Fort Collins began enforcing “U+2”, a residential occupancy restriction created in the 1960s which limited the number of unrelated persons who may cohabit legally. In a 2005 study, Corona Research estimated that 1,070 households were in violation of the ordinance. This study employs the synthetic control method (SCM) (Abadie and Gardeazabal 2003; Abadie et al 2010) to estimate the effect of enforcing U+2 on the cost of housing in Fort Collins, Colorado. The SCM is a data-driven comparative case study methodology which allows the researcher to estimate the impact of an intervention (such as U+2) on an outcome variable – in this case, the cost of housing. The results of this SCM are sensitive, but they indicate consistently that U+2 enforcement materially increased the cost of housing in Fort Collins following the beginning of its enforcement in 2007.