Housing Solutions Lab
Helping cities plan, launch, and evaluate equitable housing policies
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About the Lab
Why we work with small and midsize cities
While housing needs in larger and coastal cities receive the most national attention, small and midsize cities—those with populations between 50,000 and 500,000—face their own array of complex housing challenges—from disinvestment and concentrated poverty to housing instability and affordability gaps.
Small and midsize cities are ripe for innovation. Smaller cities can be more nimble and less encumbered by bureaucracy than their large city peers, and better able to engage higher levels of leadership, gain visibility for promising strategies, and build trust and engagement with the wider community. But they are also less likely to benefit from the philanthropic and corporate support present in larger places, or have the necessary staffing, resources, and access to data, best practice or specialized expertise needed to develop and implement effective housing responses.
The unaffordability of rental housing in these cities disproportionately affects people of color, who are more likely to be renters, and gaps in homeownership rates between white, Black and Latino households—already substantial in large cities—are even wider in small and midsize cities.
Working with the Lab
The Lab offers customized resources and tools on its Local Housing Solutions website, engages city leaders in peer learning opportunities, and can provide cities with policy and data analysis support.
We provide the following services:
- Policy and data analysis: We help cities understand housing policy options, and to use data to design, adapt, and monitor local housing programs and policies.
- Policy evaluations: We design and conduct rigorous evaluations to study the effectiveness of local housing policies and programs.
- Technical assistance: We work directly with cities on real-time policy and program implementation questions, and connect cities to targeted technical expertise.
- Peer support: We facilitate connections among city leaders to foster learning, support, and innovation.
- Dissemination: We collaborate with local governments to develop and distribute accessible, timely, policy-relevant products that highlight successful strategies and outcomes.
The Lab’s work elevates strategies for meaningful community engagement and civic leadership in policy development, and centers resident voice and priorities. Our approach also considers the nexus between housing and other policy areas, including education, health, and economic and community development, by encouraging collaboration across government agencies, with nonprofit organizations, and with other community stakeholders.
City representatives can contact us directly for more information or assistance with a housing policy question, or apply to participate in a Housing Solutions Lab Peer Cities Network.