*waves from Vancouver, Canada*
Reworking zoning as a solution came to mind for me because, in Canada’s hot housing markets, we’re seeing single-family homes bought and sold quickly to make a profit, using them almost like securities.
In Vancouver, we have many neighbourhoods very close to downtown that are zoned exclusively for single-family homes, which means they can’t be redeveloped to include housing types that are more dense/affordable. Because the houses keep being bought/flattened by developers/tarted up/sold so quickly, they cost like 1.5 mil each (and climbing) which is inaccessible for most. But they can’t be flattened and turned into apartments, because the zoning won’t allow it. So the cycle continues – the developers and speculative investors get richer, and nothing aside from massive houses for 1.5 people ever gets built.
I understand that inappropriate zoning may not be as much of an issue in cities that are already quite dense, like New York. It’s also true that the Canadian housing situation is different from that in the States, so take my musings with a grain of salt. :) I just think that it is generally true that municipal zoning/permitting policies contribute a lot to the flavour of a city and its affordability.