The LHS Policy Framework

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Play Video about Local Housing Solutions Policy Framework Background: single family homes

Introduction

Local Housing Solutions has identified nearly 100 separate policies that cities and counties can consider when developing a local housing strategy. With so many choices, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help organize and simplify your policy options, we created the Local Housing Solutions Policy Framework, which organizes our policy content into four pillars, that we recommend be included in every local housing strategy.

The four pillars are: 

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

Explore the framework in more detail

I. Create and preserve dedicated affordable housing units

Creating and preserving dedicated affordable homes is critical for ensuring that units remain affordable and available to low- or moderate- income households. The policies listed under Pillar I include things cities, towns, and counties can do to create and preserve the stock of dedicated affordable housing. housing conditions

II. Align housing supply with market and neighborhood housing conditions

The policies under Pillar II aim to promote affordability by making it easier for the private sector to increase the overall supply of housing to meet demand, or by giving local governments the tools and strategies they need to deal with vacant or abandoned inventory. Unlike units covered by policies under Pillar I, the rents and home prices of units created through Pillar II policies are not legally restricted to affordable levels. However, the creation of these new units promotes affordability by helping to satisfy the demand of higher-income households who would otherwise compete for housing occupied by moderate- or low-income households. The barriers that Pillar II policies address – such as restrictive zoning and unpredictable development processes – are among the main reasons why housing costs have increased faster than incomes in many of the nation’s urban areas.

III. Help households access and afford private-market homes

While there are good reasons to support the development of dedicated affordable housing units, it’s also important to focus on helping households access and afford the costs of housing they locate on the private market  by lowering program cost or increasing housing choices. To ensure that all households have fair access to housing units they can afford, Pillar III includes policies to provide tenant-based rental assistance, such as through a voucher program; policies to reduce barriers to homeownership through programs like downpayment or closing cost assistance, and policies to combat housing discrimination.

IV. Protect against displacement and poor housing conditions

Housing stability is an important goal of housing policy, contributing to peace of mind and a solid foundation that enables children, older adults and others to thrive. Our final category includes policies that focus on helping renters and homeowners remain stably housed in the face of rising rents, job loss, health crises, gentrification, and other challenges. Pillar IV include policies to enhance renter, homeowner, and community stability, such as through financial and legal assistance to help residents avoid eviction, legal standards that protect households from displacement, and programs to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. This category also includes efforts to enhance housing quality and prevent the loss of existing units to deterioration, such as code enforcement, rehabilitation assistance, and special programs focused on maintaining the ongoing viability and quality of small multifamily housing.

How can cities and counties use the policy framework?

There is a lot of information included in our framework, and there are many ways to use it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cities and counties that wish to develop a comprehensive local housing strategy can use the framework as an outline of the policy categories to consider in order to comprehensively address their housing affordability challenges. We recommend that each city or county adopt at least one policy, but ideally multiple policies, within each pillar.
  • Cities and counties can use the framework to facilitate an assessment of their housing affordability strategy. To facilitate this process, Local Housing Solutions includes a “Housing Strategy Review” that walks users through a series of questions and filters site content based on responses.
  • Cities and counties that already have a comprehensive local housing strategy can review the full list of policies to determine whether there are additional options they wish to consider as part of a “tune-up” of their existing strategy.
  • Finally, cities and counties that wish to advance a specific function – such as generating revenue to support affordable housing – can locate the function among the framework’s categories and sub-categories and see specific policy options for advancing it.

Conclusion

By organizing all of these policies into four main pillars, and then organizing the policies within those pillars into subcategories that correspond to key functions the policies serve, we hope that our Policy Framework helps to make sense of the dozens of options your community has to make quality housing that is affordable, accessible, and provides all people with choice and opportunity.

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