Cities do not usually directly provide housing, but their policies play a critical role in ensuring the housing supply serves the whole community. To this end, the goal of this guide is to encourage a comprehensive, system-wide view of housing planning. The tools in this guide have been organized into four broad goal areas: matching housing supply to community needs, minimizing development barriers, expanding assisted housing supply, and preserving community assets. The first two goals form the “foundation”, the minimum conditions for market rate affordability, while the other two look beyond to actively address affordability and quality of life.
The Alliance for Housing Affordability strives to promote housing that is not only affordable but appropriate for households with diverse needs. A well-rounded housing strategy will address all four goal areas, though the emphasis on each area will depend on the community. To explore housing tools by goal area, click the relevent section below. Each section will contain an overview, ideas of indicators to evaluate needs in each area, and a list of tools and links to support that area. Wherever possible, the guide will also provide ideas on how to evaluate the performance of any tools. Click here to view an index of all housing tools covered in this guide. Finally, this guide will be continually revised and updated – please email Kristina with any questions or requests for additional information.
Match Housing to Needs. The type and quantity of housing developed in a community matches its population’s needs. Housing has connections to transit and services. People can afford to live in the cities where they work. People can maintain their quality of life as they age. Example goals:
- “Provide a range of housing types and choices to meet the housing needs of all income levels and demographic groups within the region.” (PSRC Vision 2040)
- “Expand the supply and range of housing, including affordable units, in centers throughout the region.” (PSRC Vision 2040)
Minimizing Development Barriers. Minimizing the costs to developers passed on to renters and homeowners. Keeping supply flowing smoothly. Example goals:
- “Encourage jurisdictions to review and streamline development standards and regulations to advance their public benefit, provide flexibility, and minimize additional costs to housing.” (PSRC Vision 2040)
Expanding Assisted Housing Supply. Promoting an adequate supply of dedicated, below-market rental units. Expanding home ownership opportunities. Example goals:
- “Achieve and sustain — through preservation, rehabilitation, and new development — a sufficient supply of housing to meet the needs of low-income, moderate-income, middle-income, and special needs individuals and households that is equitably and rationally distributed throughout the region.” (PSRC Vision 2040)
Preserving Assets. Protecting the quality and affordability of existing housing stock. Preserving and enhancing neighborhood character. Preventing foreclosure. Example goals:
- “Develop foreclosure prevention programs to keep families in their homes and preserve home values and stability in the community.”
- “The county and cities should implement policies and programs that encourage the upgrading of neighborhoods and the rehabilitation and preservation of existing legally established, affordable housing, including but not limited to mobile/manufactured housing and single-room occupancy (SRO) housing.” (Snohomish County Countywide Planning Policies)
Other General Resources
Each section of this guide will link to a number of outside resources directly related to each topic area. There are a number of excellent general resources for housing tools that should be highlighted, in addition to being linked elsewhere:
- Housing 101 Workbook: ARCH’s guide to affordable housing needs and strategies in East King County (but applicable elsewhere)
- HousingPolicy.org: online guide to state and local housing policy. Includes both a housing toolbox and guide to forming a comprehensive housing strategy.
- HUD Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse: database of jurisdictions efforts toward removing regulatory barriers to affordable housing. These efforts are categorized by jurisdiction type and barrier addressed, with an interactive map to find local examples.
- PSRC Housing Innovations Program: collection of housing planning resources, including “housing toolkit” of 49 tools, incentives, and other strategies