Report: How States Can Improve Housing Policy

While many policies that affect housing are decided on at the local level, there are several steps state officials can take to pave the way for healthier housing markets.

November 24, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

South San Jose houses

SchuminWeb / Wikimedia Commons

According to a study by Jenny Schuetz of The Brookings Institution, "the economic, social, and environmental costs of poorly functioning housing markets spill over beyond local boundaries to affect entire regions and states. State-level action has the potential to improve these outcomes," Schuetz writes. 

The report outlines steps state governments can take to improve the conditions of housing markets and meet the needs of their state's populations. After analyzing their local conditions, states can encourage production in high-demand areas through production targets and other measures, provide direct support to low-income households, and use land use and building regulations to mitigate the effects of climate change. Schuetz stresses the importance of starting with "thoughtful data analysis" and, from there, using small-scale pilot programs to evaluate and adjust policies before putting them into full effect.

Schuetz cautions that "[b]ecause states currently start from such different baselines—both in market conditions and institutional capacity—there is not one consistent set of recommendations that will work for all states." However, some general rules can help all state officials begin to understand how to alter their state's policies to most effectively impact the housing market. The full study examines case studies from five states to show how they have used different tools to improve housing markets with their unique characteristics.

Monday, November 15, 2021 in The Brookings Institution

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