Mayors Are Addressing the Housing Crisis — And Planning Is Part of the Solution

The National League of Cities Housing Task Force released earlier this week a new report, Homeward Bound: The Road to Affordable Housing. Upon its launch, a panel of local elected officials serving on the task force affirmed their commitment to addressing the housing crisis in the United States.

Homeward Bound Takeaways

Highlighting the urgency of the housing crisis, the report calls on elected officials from the local to the federal level to prioritize solutions and outlines a series of policy recommendations to move toward a solution.

APA's Planning Home emphasizes that providing local communities a pathway toward inclusive prosperity requires the collaboration of legislators, policymakers, planners, developers, advocates, and residents.

Here are three key takeaways from Homeward Bound important for planners in their collaboration with elected officials:

1. Policies that produce equitable outcomes are a priority.

The report states that: "It is incumbent upon all elected officials to understand how the present housing inequities came about. It is also their responsibility to make fully-informed policy choices that stop the perpetuation of these inequities, unintentionally or otherwise."

Planners need to acknowledge the past and present role the planning profession has played in creating and perpetuating discriminatory practices and use this knowledge to advance policies that provide everyone with a fair opportunity to access affordable housing and economic prosperity.

APA's Planning for Equity Policy Guide gives planners the actionable, policy tools to jumpstart this work.

2. Elected officials are thinking in the "zone."

The task force identified a series of local recommendations to address the crisis. Among those was to modernize local land use policies, including zoning and permitting, to rebalance housing supply and demand.

Also a pillar of APA's Planning Home Action Agenda, planners know firsthand what it takes to make these changes happen. Planners can work with elected officials to facilitate the adoption of local plans that not only expand housing choices but also make them easier and more affordable to access.

3. Leaders are acting now, and partnership is critical.

Planners and elected officials share the goal of advancing their local community. Mayors, city council members, state legislators, and presidential candidates are seeking solutions and recognize that local practitioners and community members are a critical piece of this.

Planners' ability to bring people together, offer expertise, and facilitate local-state-federal partnerships is important.

Top image: Westlawn Gardens in Milwaukee, recipient of a 2018 APA National Planning Excellence Award, created 250 new affordable housing options.

About the Author
Catherine Hinshaw is APA's state government affairs associate.

July 11, 2019

By Catherine Hinshaw