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Innovations in housing policy : the evolving role of local government

Authors
Disciplines
  • Political Science

Abstract

Innovations in Housing Policy T he US housing affordability crisis afflicting our highest-cost metropolitan areas is a dilemma of national dimension. But dreams of a national housing safety net—akin to the socialized programs familiar in Europe and elsewhere—have long since faded away. In the face of perennial shortfalls in federal subsidy and oversight, local government’s role in the promotion of affordable housing has evolved considerably, both in terms of leadership and policy innovation. Indeed, local initiative is increasingly making the difference between areas making real progress on their housing problems and those just tread- ing water. A number of local functions in housing are organic in nature, part of the customary ambit of city and county governance within federal-state civics. Beyond their role as administrators of supply- and demand-side subsidies, local authorities engage in a variety of everyday policymaking af- fecting housing markets and household welfare, including rent control, property taxes, land use plans and zoning regu- lations, and infrastructure provision, to name just a few. Augmenting these traditional areas of local policy, addi- tional responsibilities once managed in Washington have been devolved to the states. For more than a generation, the political vanguard has championed shrinking of the federal role in addressing social needs, arguing that local authorities are more able to shepherd resources, assess need, and finesse political obstacles. Local prerogative dictates outcomes for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, HUD’s HOME, CDBG, homeless-aid and other federal funding. Innovations in Housing Policy The Evolving Role of Local Government By Larry A. Rosenthal, JD PhD Executive Director, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy Lecturer, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley . . . local initiative is increasingly making the difference between areas making real progress on their housing problems and

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