Homeward Bound: The Road to Affordable Housing

July 15, 2019

National League of Cities (NLC)


he National League of Cities (NLC) released a comprehensive affordable housing report entitled "Homeward Bound: The Road to Affordable Housing," focusing on the challenges and solutions communities large and small are using to address the nation's growing affordable housing crisis in cities. Reflecting the collaborative work of over 20 bipartisan community leaders on NLC's housing task force, the report offers several policy actions and a comprehensive overview of the history and factors behind the crisis, as well as case studies from cities launching innovative solutions and recommendations from experts.

Local leaders are seeking real housing solutions for their residents, who just want a safe, quality place to call home. Currently, half a million Americans are homeless, half of home renters are cost-burdened, and the average minimum-wage worker would have to work 99 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Housing is the single biggest factor impacting economic mobility for people. It is an outsized cost for a growing number of working families, creating cost burdens that impact millions of residents. Nearly 40 percent of households in the U.S. are rented, and research shows half of these households allot more than 30 percent of their income for housing.

America's affordable housing crisis is not limited to large urban cities or suburbs; all communities are forced to tackle this growing issue head-on. From Bozeman, MT and Oakland, CA to Camden, S.C. and Washington, DC bipartisan local leaders are developing innovative strategies to meet the needs of their communities and set an example for others, including federal partners, to follow.
Nationally there is overwhelming support for greater federal investment for affordable housing. This view is held across the political spectrum, with 95 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of unaffiliated voters and 73 percent of Republicans agreeing that housing should be a top national priority. When residents have stable living conditions, the benefits are apparent - students do better in school and health outcomes improve. Communities benefit as a whole from this stability. Opportunities for investment growth and economic prosperity develop when sustainable housing serves the needs of residents across generations and income levels.
The report highlights a set of five national housing policy recommendations:

  • Immediately stabilize and stem the loss of public and affordable housing.
  • Follow emergency intervention with passage of a long-term, stand-alone federal housing bill that authorizes ten years of new funding for pilot programs that advance housing for all.
  • Support innovation and modernization of land-use and planning at the local and regional level.
  • Fix inequities in housing development and the housing finance system.
  • Support scalable innovation and financing for cities, towns and villages.

It also includes five local recommendations:

  • Establish local programs by combining funding and financing streams to support housing goals.
  • Modernize local land use policies, including zoning and permitting, to rebalance housing supply and demand.  
  • Identify and engage broadly with local stakeholders and coordinate across municipal boundaries to develop a plan to provide housing opportunities for all.
  • Support the needs of distinct sub-populations including the homeless, seniors and persons with conviction histories.
  • Prioritize equitable outcomes in housing decision as it is an essential component for success.

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