Local Housing Strategies

Play Video about What is a local housing strategy and why is it important? Background: single family homes.

Introduction

As housing costs rise more quickly than incomes all across America, many are struggling to pay their rent and mortgages, and some are even facing eviction and homelessness. While local governments may not be able to solve this problem on their own, they are uniquely situated to help address this affordability crisis. Local governments are on the front lines – they know their communities best, and what their specific needs are. They control zoning policy and have the ability to use federal, state and local funding to create programs to best meet their constituents’ needs. Local Housing Solutions is an online, interactive platform designed to help local governments build comprehensive, balanced, and equitable housing strategies.

What is a local housing strategy?

A local housing strategy is a roadmap of the policies and programs a local government – such as a city, town, county, or region – intends to take to meet its unique housing-related policy objectives.

A housing strategy must include, at a minimum, three key elements:

  1. Clearly defined housing objectives
  2. A broad range of housing policy options for meeting those objectives, ideally drawn from multiple city or county agencies
  3. Metrics for measuring progress over time and a mechanism for doing so.


Additionally, an effective local housing strategy may also:

  • Make use of a range of tools at the municipality’s disposal such as zoning ordinances, building codes, permitting processes, tax abatements, lending and housing subsidies.
  • Strive for an approach that is balanced and comprehensive
  • Be grounded on deep engagement with the community and the key stakeholders
  • Have a timeline for implementation and an ongoing system for tracking progress toward policy objectives
  • Designate an individual or agency to serve as the lead in coordinating the activities of the many agencies with responsibility for housing-related policies

How is a comprehensive housing strategy different from other planning processes?

  • A local housing strategy is not required by state or federal governments. Unlike Consolidated Plans, Assessments of Fair Housing, or other federally-required plans, the elements of a housing strategy are entirely up to the locality developing it.
  • A local housing strategy is focused on the relationship between housing affordability, equity, and opportunity.
  • A local housing strategy is meant to be read by a broad audience, including the government agencies that implement the strategy, elected officials, external housing practitioners and advocates, and the public at large.

Why is it important to have a local housing strategy?

In the face of an issue as complex as housing, local housing strategies provide a valuable framework so that multiple sources of funding and policy strands are brought together into a single, coordinated strategy.

A good local housing strategy will build political support for policy change by understanding community needs and aligning stakeholders behind a shared and comprehensive vision that meets them. Community voice and engagement are important aspects in the development of a local housing strategy that generates the support necessary to succeed.

Finally, the long-term planning required  in preparing a local housing strategy can help to secure consistent funding and investment from both the public and private sector.

Conclusion

There’s no shortcut to conducting any comprehensive planning effort, and a local housing strategy is no exception. The training and information provided on Local Housing Solutions is designed to be your roadmap, and to give you the tools and data  required to succeed.  Visit the site to learn more, or read the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s report Through the Roof: What Communities Can Do About the High Cost of Rental Housing in America, written by leaders of Local Housing Solutions.

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