Mother smiling with three children and youngest child is holding up a house key.

Housing affordability policies and why they matter

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1 in 7 families in the U.S. were paying half or more of their income on housing. With tens of millions of individuals filing for unemployment during the pandemic, the situation is likely much worse. Families who are facing additional economic hardship from lost wages are being confronted with impossible choices between paying their rent or mortgage and paying for life’s other essentials. That is unacceptable.

While the examples shared here showcase some common state and local policy solutions adopted by communities across the country to improve home affordability, they only represent a sampling of the promising policy solutions that align with the subthemes of the Cost of Home campaign.

Habitat’s five-year Cost of Home campaign is built on four areas of policy focus that will enable families to have greater access to homes they can afford.

Increasing supply and preservation of affordable homes

Why they matter: Housing trust funds

Housing trust funds offer the advantage of having a stable, flexible source of funding which can be a critical advantage for communities looking to address the home affordability needs across the housing continuum. 

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Why they matter: Tax increment financing districts

Tax increment financing is the most popular method for spurring economic development in the U.S. These districts are typically established in areas where development likely would not occur without intervention through public financing or subsidy. 

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Equitably increasing access to credit

Why they matter: Down payment assistance programs

With a shortage of affordable housing in communities across the U.S., it is more important than ever that we help low-income homebuyers learn about and take advantage of down payment assistance programs and the support they provide.  

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Optimizing land use for affordable homes

Why they matter: Land banks

Land banks can be beneficial to communities because they return vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use while helping to facilitate neighborhood revitalization and home affordability. 

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Communities of opportunity