Affordable Housing 101

How can we increase housing options for working families?

There are many innovative housing policies that will help bring homes within reach of working families. But no single policy by itself will solve the problem. Accordingly, the best initial step a community can take is to develop a comprehensive housing strategy. An effective housing strategy enables housing officials to coordinate limited resources so they are used efficiently and in a way that is responsive to local circumstances.

Some communities may have a need for foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization that is not being adequately addressed through existing efforts. Others may have an ample supply of affordable homes but need to revitalize them to stimulate economic opportunity in or preserve their endangered stock of affordable rental apartments. Whatever the circumstances, preparation of a comprehensive housing strategy helps avoid a haphazard approach to implementation of solutions and enables communities to address the housing needs of residents and members of the local workforce in an effective and coordinated fashion.

Elements of an effective housing strategy include:

  1. A needs assessment highlighting deficits in the local housing supply and resources available to address those shortfalls.
  2. Overarching goals (eg: “Increase the supply of affordable rental units”) and specific objectives to those goals (ex: “Build 10,000 new rental units in the next 10 years”).
  3. A series of well- designed and coordinated policies that address all the different aspects of the problem.
  4. A realistic timeline for implementation with benchmarks to track progress and responsible parties designated for each step. This will help officials make sure development stays on track and community goals continue to be met.