A March 2018 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that the U.S. has a shortfall of more than 7.2 million affordable and available rental homes for low-income households. Despite government attempts bridge the gap, three out of four low income households in need of housing assistance are denied federal help with their housing, primarily due to chronic underfunding.
As housing affordability has developed into a national crisis, communities have been looking for more ways to become more actively engaged in increasing affordable housing options for low and moderate-income individuals and families. Many communities have already implemented solutions including rent control, inclusionary housing, tax incentives and trust funds, but more efforts are needed.
Housing is a regional issue and regional
coordination, information sharing, and funding generation can make a large
impact, particularly in metropolitan areas.
Here are a few examples of the
activities and programs that regional councils are carrying out across the US
to help tackle the impacts of the affordable housing crisis in their regions.
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
MWCOG plays a variety of roles in the
Washington D.C. region, working with local governments on plans for residential
growth. In September 2018, MWCOG identified a long-term goal of creating
100,000 additional homes in the region by 2045. Some of their recent activities
to further this goal include:
- Partnering with Urban
Institute to conduct a research study entitled Housing Security in the Washington Region. This study was influential for local government
officials and the community by outlining critical gaps in the region’s affordable
housing for a wide range of household incomes. It also outlines specific
housing policies and programs which are funded by local governments and
philanthropic support. Much of their research is also being shared to community
members and government officials through forums and conferences.
- MWCOG is
targeting housing preservation alongside production. They have been working
with the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington to create the Capital Area Foreclosure
Network (CAFN), which was designed to combat the region’s foreclosure crisis.
The network provides grants and technical assistance, while counseling and
organizing stakeholders, non-profits, banks and state agencies as they work towards
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
In CMAP’s GO
TO 2040 and ON
TO 2050 long-term regional plans, they have outlined
goals and steps to sustain and rebuild their region’s infrastructure. Their
priorities include affordable housing and inclusionary housing to create more
opportunities throughout every community. One of the specific goals of the GO
TO 2040 plan is to increase housing options by lowering prices, which is being
tackled by their Regional Housing Initiative (RHI). With RHI, CMAP has partnered
with various groups to increase collaboration between organizations such as the
Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Illinois Housing Development Authority
(IHDA), and ten housing authorities in the region. Their objective is to
support affordable and mixed-income housing developments in opportunity zone areas
that they have found to be the most in need.
Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC)
ARC has taken an innovative approach toward
finding solutions for affordable housing via social media. By joining
Enterprise Community Partner’s 100 Great Ideas Facebook Campaign as part of the host committee and one of the
event’s moderators, they were able to virtually unite residents within the
Atlanta Metro Region for five days of brainstorming and exchanging ideas that
could improve housing affordability. The forum was open to anyone in the region
to participate and generated over 3,400 posts, comments and reactions. ARC is
currently working with Enterprise Community Partners and the other local
agencies involved in the campaign to synthesize ideas into a final report that
can be presented to local officials for implementation.
Greater Portland Council of Governments
Being the fastest growing region in
their state, GPCOG provides a wide range of
planning services for affordable housing, including comprehensive planning,
neighborhood master planning, ordinance development, workshop facilitation and
advocacy. They act as a resource to other governing agencies as they help
communities assess their needs and develop a personalized plan for the future. A
recent example of this work includes the South Portland West End Neighborhood Master
Plan, which looks at how South Portland’s
West End neighborhood can preserve housing affordability for current and future
residents as demand rises in the region.
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC)
PVPC assists its region by
helping members identify and plan ways to meet their current and future housing
needs. Their team helps people create Housing Production Plans and Housing
Needs Assessments and Action Plans that are compliant with the Massachusetts Department
of Housing and Community Development guidelines. They are also the convener for
the Pioneer Valley Regional Housing Committee, bringing together regional
stakeholders on a quarterly basis to discuss housing successes and challenges
and work towards achieving the goals outlined in PVPC’s Pioneer Valley Regional Housing Plan.