Housing is one of the most fundamental human needs, and local government must concern itself with the quality and accessibility of housing in a myriad of ways. Cities are not, of course, starting from zero: they are dealing with an established quilt of different types and qualities of housing, and can find opportunities to create more. In this process they should have a strong preference for housing that meets local needs. To identify local needs, cites should create comprehensive housing plans based on good data and in cooperation with neighboring jurisdictions.


There are some basic principles that hold true regardless of the housing market. Housing should be safe, well built, and healthy. And it should be affordable, which is generally defined as costing no more than 30 percent of a household’s income.. What is affordable, however, should take into account the combined costs of the energy use and transportation needs that come with housing. It should provide reasonable access to employment and other necessities


Housing is an essential component of strong neighborhoods and must be considered as a part of local government land-use planning. In particular, local governments should strive to create mixed-income neighborhoods centered on schools, with good access to employment, basic needs, and transit.


Create Affordable Housing

Local governments should commit to the creation of affordable housing as a policy goal, and prepare a detailed assessment of the housing stock and market conditions, in cooperation with neighboring and overlapping governments. 

Fair Housing

Cities across the United States have taken innovative steps to expand upon the federal government’s commitment to fair housing. 

Fund Affordable Housing

Funding is the critical component in both preserving and creating affordable housing, for both public and private projects.

High Quality Housing

Building and maintenance codes can help ensure that a city’s housing stock is kept in good condition, providing a safe environment for homeowners and renters alike.

House the Homeless

Emergency shelter expenses, medical treatment, and police intervention and incarceration add up quickly, making homelessness very expensive for the cities dealing with it.

Land Use & Inequality

Patterns of land use have historically had a large impact on the economic opportunity available to families, and on the ability of families to build wealth.

Preserve Affordable Housing

In general, the cost of preserving affordable units is much lower than building new ones, even if the existing units require upgrading.

Stabilize Neighborhoods

A few key policies so far have been successful in stemming the tide of foreclosures or address homes already in foreclosure.