Policy Principles for the Nation’s Housing Crisis

Our nation is confronting a housing crisis. This crisis varies in scope and specifics from city to city and market to market, but the reality remains that current policies are undermining the broad goal of ensuring housing choice and affordability for all.

The shortage of quality affordable housing reinforces inequality and limits access to opportunity, and the lack of housing options hurts the economy and constrains social and economic mobility. Addressing this crisis must be a priority for policymakers.

Planning Is Part of the Solution

Good planning is essential for increasing housing options, boosting affordability and unlocking opportunity. Enhancing planning resources and reforming planning policy can help ensure communities see the housing they need in the places that work best.


Planning Home

An action agenda to solve the nation's housing crisis

APA believes these six principles should guide planners, developers, policy makers, and advocates in addressing critical housing issues. 

Action Agenda

Housing Crisis Realities

Many of our nation's cities have been dubbed "high cost" and metropolitan areas are struggling to maintain their workforce due to stagnant wages. Small towns and rural communities face unique housing issues that deserve attention and investment such as improving housing quality and options. Production has not kept pace with demand. Preservation of existing affordable homes, whether through existing affordability restrictions or market forces is also critical. It is not an appropriate goal to provide affordable homeownership options to all; rental is now and will remain an important part of the mix of housing options. Planners are well-positioned to address these issues due to their close-proximity to development activities, permitting, and policy-setting at all levels of government.

Our Plan

APA seeks to identify and remove barriers to housing affordability through the action agenda of Planning Home — APA's multiyear housing initiative. Some barriers are regulatory, some are social, and some are economic. Eliminating these barriers will require political solutions while others require funding. All will require revisiting community goals.

Long-held beliefs some planners hold about the planning process and regulatory frameworks may have contributed to the housing crisis, however well-intentioned. Where and how people want to live is changing. A range of reforms can help our communities and neighborhoods provide more affordable choices.

With these policy principles, policymakers at all levels can advance strategies that will equip communities to address changing demographics and needs. Together, we can provide local communities with new tools, updated plans and codes, better public involvement, and a pathway for truly inclusive prosperity.

These strategies are intended to break down local, state, federal barriers to more housing choice:

  • Remove INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS in zoning codes, funding programs and lending practices;
  • Ensure AFFORDABILITY by facilitating the production of housing at all price points;
  • Promote DIVERSITY by producing a wide variety of housing types and formats;
  • Ensure EQUITY in the distribution of affordable units; and
  • Ensure adequate FUNDING from both public and private sources.

Realizing our action agenda will require a concerted effort by all of those in the planning profession to advocate, to engage their legislative officials and to conduct public outreach and education.

Planning can deliver homes, places, communities, and opportunity.

APA's Housing Principles were approved by APA's Board of Directors on March 29, 2018.