Safe, decent, affordable housing is fundamental to the economic and physical well-being of all families, communities, and regional economics.
Housing stability, be it owned or rented, leads to greater financial stability and freedom, reduced stress, improved health, increased school attendance, increased school performance, and longer-term economic stability.
Yet families and households encompass an increasingly diverse demographic that has changed over time and now spans a broad income range of needs. There are more extended families in multigenerational households. Nearly half of U.S. adults are single. An aging population is living in homes that are not easily accessible. A record 41% of young adults live with their parents.
The challenge to affordable housing is a multidimensional problem, and the simple fact is that the current housing stock is not as diverse as we are.
Housing Affordability Policy
Planners, policymakers and elected officials need to explore the issues involved in building a greater range of housing types that discreetly add density to existing zoning and neighborhoods. The types include smaller homes, smaller lots, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — a mix that is being referred to as Missing Middle Housing types.
Different tools and approaches are needed to address different income segments and solve different problems. Some may work better than others in particular areas. Most work best as part of a comprehensive housing affordability strategy, but there is no “silver bullet” solution.
Learn more about the different tools available and how different municipalities across the United States have tried to solve the housing affordability issues in their communities by clicking here.
Improve Development Process Efficiency
The land development review and approval process is an important component of the risk and expense of a housing development project. In many areas of the country, development approvals have gone from taking a few months to two years or more (sometimes many more) to obtain. This report focuses on strategies used recently—primarily since the end of the recession—to improve the efficiency of the land development review and approval process.
These strategies were divided into seven different categories: (1) Streamlining/consolidating the review process (2) Increasing staff capacity for land development review and approval (3) Creating a separate process for expedited review (4) Implementing online permitting (5) Creating accountability (6) Making the process more user friendly (7) State-level strategies. You can view the full report here.
Additional you can view the Smart Codes, Smart Process Checklist and the APA Growing Smart Paper.
Avoid Residential Design Standards
By enacting residential design standards, communities aim to control the physical characteristics of their housing stock, preserve community character, protect property values and attain certain populations of home buyers and renters. Such standards can create a barrier to housing affordability. See how builders are challenging these standards across the country and other alternatives communities can pursue. You can view the full report here.
Many communities rely on inclusionary zoning (IZ) to show they are addressing housing affordability without examining the local causes, or understanding the complexities and diversity of housing needs. Learn more about this topic, including the typical incentives used for IZ, as well as a calculator tool to show the effect of IZ on the pro forma for a development. You can view the full PowerPoint here.
The housing affordability challenge is a multidimensional problem, but the simple fact is the current housing stock is not as diverse as we are. This presentation outlines the challenges and NAHB research available to help combat housing affordability. You can download the report here.
Diversifying Housing Options with Smaller Lots and Smaller Homes
This report explores the issues involved in building a greater mix of housing types that bring discreet density to neighborhoods using a palette that ranges from smaller homes, to accessory dwelling units, to “missing middle” housing types. You can view the full report here.
Replicate Other Successful Programs
The report "Discovering New Opportunities for Affordable Housing Research on State and Local Means to Increase Affordable Housing" features a dozen detailed case studies from across the country that showcase the many ways in which communities can increase housing affordability. You can view the full report here.