After creating a website to help stakeholders across the nation develop effective local housing solutions, the next step was obvious: work closely with individual cities and counties to help them take advantage of these tools. The inaugural Local Housing Solutions Institute is one forum for providing that assistance. In conjunction with the NYU Furman Center, Abt Associates is working with senior officials from key housing agencies and organizations to help them strengthen their local housing strategies. Through a competitive process, four cities were selected for the Institute’s first session in September: Atlanta, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and San Antonio.
“We have selected these four cities due to their demonstrated dedication to comprehensively addressing their affordability challenges,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, Faculty Director at the NYU Furman Center. “We are delighted to be able to offer this Institute as a way for this cohort to learn from each other.”
The Institute will focus on rising housing costs, with an emphasis on addressing the threat they pose to the quality of life and economic competitiveness in participating communities. Attendees will receive support in the design and execution of comprehensive and balanced housing strategies. The word “comprehensive” is crucial; the goal is to leverage the full range of policy tools and stakeholders that impact the supply and cost of housing.
“The housing challenges communities face are broad and cross agency jurisdictions,” said Abt’s director of Housing and Community Initiatives, Jeffrey Lubell. “The solutions, then, need to be equally broad and bold. We’re gathering multiple agency representatives so we can help communities develop cross-cutting and scalable solutions.”
Each city is sending a team of five to six senior leaders from agencies that are vital to the development of a truly comprehensive housing strategy. In addition to receiving guidance from Institute staff—which is composed of Abt and NYU Furman Center experts—the participants will share their best practices and work within their city teams. The goal is for attendees to leave the Institute with a better understanding of the policy options that are available to them and with a strong foundation for future collaboration within their respective cities.
That approach builds on the Local Housing Solutions website, which provides guidance on how to develop an effective local housing strategy. LocalHousingSolutions.org provides a comprehensive source of housing policy guidance via a library of more than 80 policies that preserve and strengthen affordability and address a range of other housing objectives.
“The complexity of designing a comprehensive and effective housing strategy can stymie even the most innovative and thoughtful city leaders,” said Lubell. “The Local Housing Solutions Institute will provide city officials with the time and space to be thoughtful, strategic and intentional as they tackle the increasingly pressing issue of housing affordability.”
The Local Housing Solutions Institute will take place at the West Creek Ranch in Montana and is funded by a generous grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.