Finding Ways for States and Cities to Work Together to Solve the Housing Crisis

The National League of Cities has a new report surveying local tools for addressing the housing affordability crisis. State partnerships are included.

2 minute read

April 9, 2019, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


State Capital of Utah

Maciej Bledowski / Shutterstock

Christiana K. McFarland, the research director for the National League of Cities shares ideas on how states and cities can work together to find solutions to housing affordability challenges around the country. Citing the example of the statewide legislation in California that has either been approved in recent years or is still in consideration, McFarland writes that tension between states and cities in many places around the country "is as much about who leads -- cities or the state -- as it is about the solution itself."

While the National League of Cities is a leading proponent of local control whenever controversial, pro-development legislation like California's is under consideration, McFarland's angles here are notably supportive of a supply-side approach to housing development as a response to the housing affordability crisis.

Given the great resources needed to make a dent in the problem, the cross-jurisdictional nature of housing markets, and the sometimes-fierce local opposition to increased density, state support of housing affordability is vital. However, the need to mitigate neighborhood impacts such as residential displacement, to engage communities in meaningful compromises, and to nurture cultural shifts toward acceptance of all housing types (and people) means that city leadership is also critical.

Along the way of building a case to support those assertions, McFarland cites examples from Seattle, Minnesota, and Utah.

The discussion also offers a chance to promote the recent publication of the National League of Cities "Local Tools to Address Housing Affordability" report, which reveals more examples of state, local partnerships and other local planning tools to address housing affordability in all 50 states.

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