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Set the stage for the development and implementation of an effective local housing strategy
Plan (laptop, notebook, and coffee table)

A comprehensive local housing strategy provides a guiding framework for cities, towns, and counties to identify and coordinate the many policy tools and stakeholders that will be required to make substantial progress toward meeting their housing needs. An effective strategy utilizes an equitable planning process and sets equitable goals at the local level through robust community engagement efforts that respect the perspectives and lived experiences of community residents, input from representatives from all of the departments and agencies that make housing-related policy decisions, and mechanisms to monitor and measure progress towards numerical goals as implementation goes forward.

While each community will structure these activities in different ways depending on the local context, the links below provide big-picture guidance on how to approach the process of developing a local housing strategy:

What is a local housing strategy and why is it important?

Overview of the purpose and benefits of a local housing strategy, including discussion of the role a strategy can play in promoting coordination across agencies and sectors, aligning funding sources and policy initiatives, and building political support to achieve affordable housing goals and related objectives. Learn more about what a local housing strategy is and why it is important.

Key steps to develop a local housing strategy

Developing a local housing strategy is a time- and resource-intensive process. This brief summarizes the basic elements that should be included in a local housing strategy and provides guidance on the range of mechanisms that you can use/employ to prepare a comprehensive housing strategy in-house. Learn about the key steps to developing a local housing strategy.

Comprehensiveness and balance—key attributes of a local housing strategy

It’s important for local housing strategies to be both comprehensive and balanced. Comprehensive strategies encompass a wide range of tools from a broad array of local agencies. Balanced approaches appropriately balance different approaches for increasing housing affordability. Learn more about comprehensiveness and balance.

Establishing goals for a local housing strategy and monitoring progress

When developing a local housing strategy, cities, towns, and counties should identify high-level, meaningful goals that enable them and the general public to track the jurisdiction’s overall progress in achieving its housing policy objectives. Furthermore, monitoring these goals will help localities assess progress and achieve their policy objectives. Learn more about establishing goals for and monitoring the progress of a local housing strategy.

Addressing housing challenges on a regional basis

Cities, towns, and counties in many regions could benefit from tackling local housing challenges on a regional basis. Regional approaches can take many shapes, such as the implementation of a single policy or program by two or more jurisdictions, or a more comprehensive approach involving the development and implementation of a regional housing strategy. Read about the ways localities can use regional approaches to address housing challenges. 

Working with a consultant to develop a local housing strategy

When developing a local housing strategy, cities, towns, and counties can choose to conduct all of the work required to develop the strategy in-house or hire one or more consultants to provide technical support or additional capacity. Learn more about working with a consultant to develop a local housing strategy.

Taking a balanced approach to new development

Preserving and expanding the supply of dedicated affordable housing is critical, but research evidence shows that allowing the broader housing market to respond to increased demand with new construction is also essential to constrain housing prices in cities, towns, and counties facing rising rents and prices. This brief reviews that evidence and also underscores what a robust supply of market rate housing will not accomplish. The paper concludes that cities, towns, and counties should adopt a balanced approach that both supports the creation and preservation of dedicated affordable housing and removes barriers to new development for all income levels. Learn more about taking a balanced approach to new development.

Addressing segregation by income, race, and ethnicity

Overview of how communities can use affordable housing tools to help overcome economic, racial, and ethnic segregation that impedes access to resource-richA term to define neighborhoods that offer abundant amenities, such as access to quality schools and public libraries, streets and parks that are free from violence and provide a safe place to play, and fresh and healthy food. While we refer to these areas as “resource-rich,” some cities, towns, and counties use the term “opportunity areas” instead. We have chosen to use the term “resource-rich areas” to avoid a suggestion that residents of low-income neighborhoods can access opportunity only by moving to higher-income areas. neighborhoods. Learn more about addressing neighborhood disparities.

Engaging the community in the development of a local housing strategy

Conducting virtual community engagement

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities, towns, and counties have had to shift how they primarily engage with community members from in-person to virtual methods. This brief outlines methods and tools for virtual engagement, opportunities for and challenges of virtual engagement, and overall best practices localities may want to consider as they aim to strengthen their use of online tools for community engagement. Learn more about virtual community engagement.

Promoting interagency engagement and collaboration in the development of a local housing strategy

Guidance on structuring the planning process to include local leadership and representatives from the full range of agencies that are directly or indirectly involved in providing, regulating, or supporting. Learn more about interagency collaboration.

Engaging nonprofit organizations in local housing programs

Nonprofit organizations can play a crucial role in delivering housing-related programs in cities, towns, and counties. In addition to providing essential services for localities, nonprofits can help localities learn more about the housing needs of their clients and provide valuable feedback on a locality’s existing or proposed programs. Learn more about working with nonprofit organizations.

Engaging employers in local housing strategies

Employers can take a range of actions to help expand the availability of affordable homes, including forming coalitions to help support the development of affordable housing; supporting local planning efforts by providing input on housing needs and helping localities develop strategies to address those needs; and, in some cases, creating employer-assisted housing programs to help their employees afford housing. Learn more about the ways localities can engage employers in their planning.

Resources on building public support

List of selected publications, organizations, and initiatives focused on public opinion research and messaging on affordable housing and housing subsidy programs, including brief descriptions and links. Learn more about resources on building public support.

The role of states in shaping local housing strategies

While a full review of state housing policy is beyond the scope of LocalHousingSolutions.org, there are many aspects of state housing policy that can enable, inhibit, and/or generally influence the development of local housing strategies. State actions can be especially important for smaller cities and counties with smaller budgets and administrative capacity to develop, adopt, and implement comprehensive housing strategies on their own. Learn more about the role of states in shaping local housing strategies.

Profiles of local housing strategies

These profiles provide overviews of comprehensive and balanced housing strategies in a number of U.S. cities. Access the housing strategy profiles now.

Housing policy case studies

This housing policy case study library includes a variety of case studies featuring innovative housing policies implemented in cities throughout the United States. Access the case study library now.

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