A Decent Home

Shelter From the Storm ... Or Is a Decent Home More Than That?

As the foreclosure crisis deepens, lawmakers and community organizations are scrambling to create affordable, decent places to live for the millions in need. Yet affordable housing is poorly understood and widely controversial.

In A Decent Home, recently published by APA Planners Press, housing expert Alan Mallach paints a comprehensive picture of what affordable housing is, how it works, and how it is planned, built, and preserved. This book provides both a solid, factual introduction to the topic and a serious, thought-provoking examination of the important issues and controversies — including social, economic, and political considerations — raised by affordable housing.

A Decent Home offers readers information and insight to make informed, responsible decisions about affordable housing. Shouldn't this book find a home on your shelf?


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Meet the Author

Alan MallachAlan Mallach, FAICP, is a nonresident senior fellow of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and a visiting scholar of the Community Affairs Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Mallach is the author of Bringing Buildings Back: From Abandoned Properties to Community Assets and Inclusionary Housing Programs: Policies and Practices.

In addition to his interest in housing and neighborhoods, Mallach is also knowledgeable about music. He speaks about music, particularly Italian opera, and has written several books on the subject.


Praise for A Decent Home

"In A Decent Home, Alan Mallach combines a compelling case for affordable housing policies with useful guidelines for how to actually produce it. This book is an important one-stop resource full of practical information for public-policy makers, nonprofit leaders, and the private housing producers — indeed, for all community builders working to add to the stock of badly needed affordable housing."

—Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman of CityView and Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

A Q&A with Alan Mallach

Please describe your book.

A Decent Home is the book for anyone who wants to understand what affordable housing is about in the United States today, short of seeking to become an expert on the subject. In other words, it is the book for professionals who deal with affordable housing issues (city planners, architects, and lawyers), for public officials and concerned citizens, and for classroom use. It is designed both as a solid, factual introduction to the topic, and as a serious, thought-provoking examination of the many issues and controversies — social, economic, physical — raised by affordable housing.

This is the only book available that truly provides a comprehensive picture of affordable housing today, beginning with why affordable housing is needed, and walking through issues of design, planning, and financing, addressing specific topics such as homelessness and inclusionary zoning. Moreover, while A Decent Home provides detailed factual information and background, it recognizes the controversial nature of many affordable housing issues, and does not shy away from addressing them clearly and constructively.

The book contains many useful checklists, dealing with such matters as design issues, project approvals needed, housing development budget elements, issues to consider when thinking about an inclusionary zoning ordinance, and more. It includes a step-by-step case study of the affordable housing development process, as well as a case study that walks the reader through the financing of a low-income tax credit rental project. Finally, it contains an appendix that includes detailed recommendations of resources — books, articles, and web sites — where the reader can get further information, organized chapter by chapter, for each of the topics covered in the book.

Is there a particular segment of the planning profession that might be especially interested in your book?

  • Planners working in local (county and municipal) government who may be involved in developing master plans, housing elements, and affordable housing strategies; and in reviewing development applications for affordable housing projects.
  • Planners working for housing authorities, redevelopment agencies, or other public or nonprofit entities that may be involved in affordable housing issues.
  • Planners working for consultants that may be involved in developing master plans, housing elements, and affordable housing strategies; or acting on behalf of for-profit or nonprofit developers.
  • Planners teaching undergraduate or graduate courses in housing or community development.

Who among nonplanners will be most interested in the book?

  • Architects and landscape architects. The book contains extended discussions of design and site planning issues, site selection issues, and other matters of direct concern to architects—as well as providing them with a larger understanding of social and economic issues relevant to their design activities.
  • Attorneys. The book addresses a wide range of legal issues affecting affordable housing, including the approval process, exclusionary zoning, and inclusionary housing, as well as providing them with a greater understanding of social and economic issues related to affordable housing.

How about associations or organizations?

  • International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the National League of Cities. This book is of value to local officials—mayors, city managers, planners, housing and community development officials, and more—dealing with affordable housing issues.
  • American Institute of Architects (for the reasons listed above).
  • American Bar Association, especially the Forum on Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (for the reasons listed above).
  • NeighborWorks America, which is a national organization that supports nonprofit housing development organizations in the U.S.
  • National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA), which is a national organization comprising statewide and citywide associations of community development corporations.
  • National Housing Conference, the Washington-based organization that advocates for affordable housing issues and provides information about affordable housing.

Does your book have a potential for classroom use?

Yes, very much so. I believe that it could be used most profitably in graduate and advanced undergraduate courses. It could also be used, either in toto or individual chapters, for continuing professional education programs.