Local Solutions for Housing Affordability
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.