Planning Magazine

Champion Reforms to Solve the Housing Crisis

The Housing Supply Accelerator Playbook recommends ready-to-implement strategies that local elected officials and planners should embrace to create more diverse, attainable, and equitable housing options in communities big and small.

Article Hero Image

The playbook is a game-changing guide from the American Planning Association and the National League of Cities aimed at creating more housing supply. Illustration by by Kotryna Zukauskaite.

How best to create housing abundance and affordability is a classic "wicked problem": Difficult to solve. Complex. With changing and interconnected variables. When we confront today's housing crisis, we face difficulties and dimensions that are economic, social, spatial, historical, and multisectoral. Despite these obstacles, creating housing supply by increasing housing diversity, attainability, and equity is an essential challenge of our time.

Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE, is APA’s Chief Executive Officer.

Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE, is APA's Chief Executive Officer.

Progress on housing can unlock opportunity in many other areas — health, wealth, education, and prosperity. That's why the work of the Housing Supply Accelerator, a partnership between the American Planning Association (APA) and the National League of Cities (NLC), is so important.

Planners are proud to join with local elected leaders, developers, home builders, real estate professionals, and the housing finance industry in this effort to explore differing perspectives, examine diverse needs, and find shared strategies and policies that can be implemented now. We've asked ourselves and each other hard questions, and through these conversations over the last year, we've identified a range of actionable and impactful ideas that communities can embrace now.

Those strategies are collected in the game-changing Housing Supply Accelerator Playbook, a new guide from APA and NLC that focuses on a systems approach to addressing housing supply challenges. A resource for local leaders, planners, and public and private stakeholders, it offers strategies, guidance, and case studies in four areas that we identified as critical to accelerating housing supply through our early partner work. Those areas are collaboration and partnership, construction and development, finance, and land use and regulation.

Scalable solutions for local needs

Outdated approaches must change, and new, disruptive forces must be addressed. The Housing Supply Accelerator Playbook offers both a better, more comprehensive approach and specific interventions and policies that are scalable to fit the diversity — geographic, political, and economic — of the country.

Take, for instance, this replicable approach from Fayetteville, Arkansas. That city is developing a construction and development program to streamline residential housing production by expediting the permitting process and offering 30 preapproved housing designs — including single-family, townhomes, duplexes, and cottages — to encourage compatible infill in two of its neighborhoods, including downtown.

A finance-related example comes from Hood River, Oregon, where 43 percent of renters are cost-burdened. The city prepared the Affordable Housing Strategy to identify a diverse set of potential funding sources to pay for affordable housing development and preservation. In addition to identifying partner funding sources at the local, regional, and state levels, the strategy explored options such as creating a tax increment financing district, pursuing a general obligation bond, and using revenue from a one percent construction excise tax to fund developer incentives and acquire land.

The housing landscape stands at a pivotal juncture, demanding that communities address local housing supply challenges with urgency and innovation. This playbook serves as a guide and a call to action to embrace complexity and champion collaboration. Tackling this national housing supply shortage at the local level demands collective momentum to achieve meaningful progress.

Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE, is APA’s Chief Executive Officer.