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Helping Local Governments Develop Stronger Housing Strategies

October 15, 2018

While policy reforms are needed at all levels of government to address the growing housing affordability crisis, the most urgent changes fall within the jurisdiction of cities, towns and counties. We’re simply not building enough housing to keep up with demand, and local governments control the zoning and permitting tools necessary to address this problem.  Without sufficient increases in supply, rents and home prices will continue to rise faster than families’ incomes in regions where the economy is doing well and housing demand is high and growing.  Local governments can also address housing affordability through property tax and parking incentives, housing trust funds that generate funding for affordable housing and many other policies. 

Yet with more than 80 local housing policies to choose from, the development of a local housing strategy can be an incredibly complex endeavor. Many communities need help developing housing strategies that make the most of available tools and resources.

To develop comprehensive guidance for local governments on how to create more effective housing strategies, Abt Global and the NYU Furman Center convened a group of 14 practitioners from around the country over two years as the core working group of the National Community of Practice on Local Housing Policy.  With funding from the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Community of Practice also engaged an advisory council of more than 40 organizations with expertise in housing and local government decision-making. 

With guidance from the Community of Practice, Abt and the Furman Center have produced a range of materials that will help cities, town and counties develop more effective local housing strategies.  To help clarify the available choices, we developed a housing policy framework that categorized more than 80 housing policies into four broad categories and multiple subcategories that correspond to key functions served by local housing policy.  We also developed a suite of educational materials to introduce users to affordable housing, provide in depth guidance on specific policies and help cities and counties put the individual pieces together into a comprehensive local housing strategy.

These materials are housed at, a new website making its official debut in October 2018.  The website is designed to help cities, towns and counties better understand their options and identify gaps in their housing strategies that could be addressed to help them achieve their housing goals.

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