To enhance local affordability. To foster inclusive communities.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the website, the Housing Solutions Lab, and guidance on using our housing policy resources. is designed to help local leaders pursue effective, data-driven, and equitable local housing policies. The website is organized into five main sections that are complementary, but can each be used on their own. Housing 101 walks through the basics of housing policy and is an excellent start for people new to housing topics. The Build a Strategy section is a good place to start for people interested in understanding the design and implementation of a local housing strategy. The Explore Policies area explains the LHS Housing Policy Framework and allows you to search our policy library, review your own local strategy using an online diagnostic tool, and learn ways to accomplish specific policy objectives

The Housing Data section features housing data and information on how to use it – including our interactive Housing Needs Assessment Tool, which provides data on demographic and housing conditions for every city, county, and metropolitan statistical area in the country. Finally, our Case Studies section provides detailed examples of how cities are implementing innovative housing policies.

The Housing Solutions Lab team maintains–with updates on our projects, partners, research, and opportunities featured on our blog and on our Research or City Engagement pages.  

The Housing Solutions Lab provides a range of tools and guidance to help cities develop local housing strategies. The Lab maintains the Local Housing Solutions website and helps cities design, launch, and evaluate local housing policies. Learn more about how LHS was developed here. Our Lab page will help you get started using our resources, and you can find our latest work on our blog — Lab Notes.

If you are brand new to the housing policy space and would like to learn more, we recommend checking out our Housing 101 video series. The series includes an overview of affordable housing, an explanation of issues policymakers in the affordable housing space face, solutions and strategies to make housing more affordable, and an overview of how our Housing Needs Assessment tool works. Another good option includes taking our two self-paced courses on core housing concepts and developing a housing strategy.   

We offer annual workshops and peer learning opportunities for local housing professionals. To learn more, sign up for our mailing list here. You can also reach out to us directly by emailing our Director of City Engagement Jess Wunsch at or contacting us through Ask the Lab. More information about our direct work with cities can be found on our City Engagement page

The Housing Policy Framework is our way of organizing the dozens of local housing policies that communities can use to address affordability challenges. The Framework organizes policies into four main categories that together can help increase housing affordability and improve housing quality and residential stability:

  • Create and preserve dedicated affordable housing units
  • Align housing supply with market and neighborhood housing conditions
  • Help households access and afford private-market homes
  • Protect against displacement and poor housing conditions

Policies in each of these categories are divided into subcategories that represent different ways to achieve housing goals. You can read a brief with more details about the Framework.

There are three ways to find information about a specific housing policy on LHS:

  1. Visit the Housing Policy Library and find the policy within the Housing Policy Framework.
  2. Use the “Sort” feature to browse the library of policies from A-Z.
  3. Use the search bar at the top of the Housing Policy Library to search for the policy. 

If you want more info or to talk to someone about a specific policy question, you can Ask the Lab

The Lab partners with local government and nonprofit leaders in small and midsize cities to evaluate innovative local housing programs and policies. We also support research at housing authorities through our Public Housing Authority Community of Practice and we support researchers studying housing policy innovation in small and midsize cities through competitive grants. You can read more about the Lab’s research on our Research page. If you are interested in partnering with the Lab to integrate data collection or measure the success of your local housing policy or program, please contact Claudia Aiken, Director of New Research Partnerships, at

The exact format may vary by citation style, but we recommend the following to cite content found on Local Housing Solutions: 

Video/Brief Name. NYU Furman Center Housing Solutions Lab’s, [include link to specific page]. Date accessed. 

For example: 

Financing Multifamily Housing 101. NYU Furman Center Housing Solutions Lab’s, Accessed 27 October 2023. 

The Housing Solutions Lab provides housing policy-makers with data that can be used to inform local housing strategies. We provide this in the form of the Housing Needs Assessment Tool (HNAT) on LHS. The HNAT uses publicly available data to generate reports that cities can reference at their convenience. The report includes visualizations and maps that display demographic information, measures of housing affordability, housing stock characteristics, and variations of key housing indicators by race, ethnicity, age, and income. We also provide guidance on ways that cities can use local housing data

The Housing Needs Assessment Tool (HNAT) uses American Community Survey (ACS) five-year data, which is released by the Census Bureau every December. These updates are reflected in the tool by January of the following year. 

ACS one-year estimates are available annually in mid-September for areas with a population of 65,000 or more. However, we do not use the ACS one-year sample in the HNAT because it can have higher margins of error and is unavailable for many localities with smaller populations. If you are planning to utilize this sample, please feel free to contact us for technical assistance. 

If you would like to speak to someone at the Lab, please use our Ask the Lab form to contact us. Please note that the Housing Solutions Lab provides planning resources and assistance. We cannot provide legal advice, and we do not administer any housing programs or funds. 

If you would like to make a media inquiry to the Lab or request a speaker, please contact NYU Furman Center’s Director of External Affairs, Donna Borak, at

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