Local Solutions for Housing Affordability

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy recently published a report to identify local government actions to ensure stable and affordable places to live for everyone.

2 minute read

March 11, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

African American

Simone Hogan / Shutterstock

Authors Ingrid Gould Ellen and Mark A. Willis of New York University and Jeffrey Lubell of Abt Associates have authored a report, published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, that provides tools and guidance for local governments faced with increasingly out-of-reach housing costs—a challenge only exacerbated by the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The report describes the extent of the affordability crisis, explores the forces that drive housing prices, and explains the interaction among federal, state, and local policy. Its recommendations focus on local government, where most decisions about land use and housing are made in the United States," according to an article by Will Jason that summarizes the report.

On a particularly topical note, the report argues that more permissive land use policies alone are not enough to solve the affordability crisis.

"Other drivers of rising housing costs include the limited availability of land, the impacts of global investment capital, rising income inequality, stagnant incomes, and a lack of innovation in the construction sector," writes Jason. "These challenges demand collaboration between the private sector and all levels of government to expand the stock of rental and for-sale housing with binding covenants that ensure long-term affordability and to protect residents from displacement." 

Instead of a one-size-all prescription, the report tailors its recommendations to the individual needs of communities, with a focus on the rental market. The four-part framework recommended by the report includes a menu of actions for each category of 1) creating and preserving affordable housing units, 2) reducing barriers to new supply, 3) helping households access and afford private homes, and 4) protecting against displacement and sub-standard living conditions.

The report builds on recommendations found on LocalHousingSolutions.org, a website hosted by Abt Associates and the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy that helps local government officials navigate policy options and craft housing plans.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

View of 110 freeway with downtown Los Angeles buildings in background.

LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’

A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.

February 29, 2024 - Streetsblog LA

Blue and white Pittsburgh bike share bikes lined up at a station with a red city bus on street in background.

Micromobility Operators Call for Better Links to Transit

For shared mobility to succeed, systems must tap into the connectivity and funding potential offered by closer collaboration with public transit.

5 hours ago - GovTech

New York MTA Bus

Retaining Transit Workers Is About More Than Wages

An analysis of California transit employees found a high rate of burnout among operators who face unpredictable work schedules, high housing costs, and occasional violence.

6 hours ago - Streetsblog California

View of Hollywood Reservoir with palm trees in foreground and Los Angeles neighobrhoods in background.

California's Stormwater Potential

A new study reveals that if California could collect and treat more stormwater in cities, it could provide enough water to supply a quarter of the state’s urban population.

March 4 - Cal Matters

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.