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Phase B: Prepare a local housing strategy


There are six steps involved in preparing a local housing strategy: B1. Analyze local housing needs, B2. Define policy objectives, B3. Establish goals to meet policy objectives, B4. Identify an array of local policy tools, B5. Identify funding sources, and B6. Develop an implementation plan. 

Together, these steps represent the second of a three-phase local housing strategy preparation process.  The first phase (Phase A) involves laying the groundwork for developing a strategy, and the third phase (Phase C) consists of monitoring performance and periodically updating the strategy.

The following is a summary of these steps, together with links to relevant resources on Local Housing Solutions:

B1. Analyze local housing needs

One of the first steps in preparing a local housing strategy is reviewing past plans, reports, and studies that may provide relevant insight into local housing needs. A Housing Needs Assessment is another critical early component of the local housing strategy preparation process. It documents local needs and challenges to help localities better understand the problems they seek to solve.

Local Housing Solutions’
Housing Needs Assessment Tool provides a good place to start, offering a wealth of data on local housing challenges. By combining these data with locally generated data (e.g., permits, code violations, resident surveys, and qualitative data on the biggest obstacles to development) and analysis of how housing challenges vary across neighborhoods in the locality, localities can gain valuable insights into the nature and extent of local housing needs and challenges. 

Localities can analyze variations in neighborhood-level data to help address local economic and racial segregation and disparities. Considering variations in income, housing, and other data across different neighborhoods can help localities identify areas facing segregation, gentrification, decline, destabilization, and other issues. It can also help localities determine what areas have the greatest housing-related needs.

Engaging residents and local stakeholders during the needs assessment process is vital to developing a more robust understanding of local assets, challenges, and opportunities. Involving the community in the local housing strategy process from the beginning will help the locality foster trust, develop an equitable strategy, and build support for its implementation.

B2. Define policy objectives

Before developing their housing strategy, it will be necessary for localities to identify the policy objectives they most want to address through it. These will serve as guideposts for identifying policy options for the strategy and allocating funding across policies. Localities can integrate existing policy priorities from other local plans, such as the HUD Consolidated Plan where appropriate.

The needs identified in the Housing Needs Assessment may also help shape a locality’s policy objectives.
Localities may find the Policy Objectives section of Local Housing Solutions helpful in identifying potential options.

After identifying their policy objectives, localities may want to prioritize them — considering their most pressing needs, past and existing housing efforts, community input, sequencing, and other factors that may affect local priorities. This prioritization can help localities allocate funding and during the goal setting and implementation planning steps discussed later in Phase B.

B3. Establish goals to meet policy objectives

To monitor progress in meeting their policy objectives, localities should set measurable goals for their local housing strategy.

Local Housing Solutions recommends setting both
high-level goals to support their policy objectives and sub-goals describing more specific goals for helping specific populations such as very low- or extremely low-income households.

Localities should strive to make these goals “SMART,” meaning they should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound. To support their high-level goals and sub-goals, localities can also set
programmatic goals and milestones – for example, a goal of launching a new downpayment assistance initiative by X date and a goal of providing down payment assistance to Y households through this program by Y date.

B4. Identify an array of local policy tools

Localities must employ a wide array of local policy tools to achieve their policy objectives and goals. Localities can benefit from a comprehensive and balanced approach when identifying local policy tools. For example, localities in high-cost areas should strive to balance creating and preserving dedicated affordable homes with increases in the overall supply of housing. The Housing Policy Framework can help localities identify specific policy tools.  The briefs on the Refine page can help localities assess trade-offs as they work to sharpen their housing strategy. Some local policy tools may require authorization or face preemption at the state level; this brief offers guidance for this scenario.

B5. Identify funding sources

After identifying a comprehensive and balanced set of policy tools, localities will need to identify potential funding sources to support them. Localities can start by estimating each policy and program funding needs (long-, medium-, and short-term) and then identify revenue-generating opportunities that can meet those needs, which may include enhancing existing sources or creating new ones. Examples of local funding sources include housing trust funds, linkage fees, general obligation bonds, and tax increment financing).

In addition to considering ways to raise local revenue, localities can leverage state and federal funding sources (e.g., state tax credits, HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

B6. Develop an implementation plan

A local housing strategy outlines a locality’s planned approach to addressing its housing needs, while an implementation plan ensures that someone is responsible for its policies and programs. To develop an implementation plan, localities can compile a list of their local housing strategy’s goals, policy tools, and funding sources and determine who will be responsible for implementing each.

Most localities will want to
collaborate with local partners to help implement their housing strategy. For example, localities could directly fund nonprofits to carry out locally funded housing program activities. Localities can also partner with public housing agencies to achieve shared goals like expanding the supply of deeply affordable housing. This is also the time when localities should plan for how they are going to implement Phase C. 

Localities may find it helpful to complete the following steps when developing their implementation plan: 

  • Assess local capacity and resources (e.g., staff and budget)
  • Map interdependencies for achieving different goals
  • Develop a local legislative and executive action plan for incorporating policy tools (e.g., identify zoning code amendments or budget dedications)
  • Plan which agencies will implement each policy tool
  • Establish timeframes for when they expect to achieve their goals. 
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