Policy

The rules of the game—and the attitudes of the players—have an enormous effect on community development work at all levels. Here we look at some of the conversations about how to shift that policy for the better.

A row of large gray cylindrical water storage tanks on a roof. Behind them are heat pumps and other technical apparatus.

The Shift to Using More Electricity Will Change How Affordable Housing Is Built

Policymakers and building designers have gone from pushing for energy efficiency to focusing on reducing carbon emissions by using more electrical-based systems. What are some of the benefits and challenges of going all-electric, and how can affordable housers move forward?
A sidewalk view of a front stoop where a man stands holding a bullhorn. Lined up on the sidewalk in front of him is a large group of people, many wearing CLVU's bright yellow-green T-shirts.

Boston Organizers Protect Individual Tenants, While Trying to Change the System

City Life/Vida Urbana is known for successful tenant union organizing and anti-eviction actions, but every individual action springs from a larger vision of system and policy change.
A close-up view of two electronic doorbells on a brick wall. The bricks are painted red and blue in a pattern that the viewer is too close to to see. The doorbells, which are grubby-looking, have paper stickers next to them reading Apartment #1 or Apartment #2.

Is Everything in Your Lease Legal? Quite Possibly Not

Some leases plainly contradict state law or include questionable, punitive, or egregiously anti-tenant clauses.
An illustration highlighting the 6 policies tenants are fighting for, including good cause eviction, right to habitability, right to counsel, rent regulation, tenant opportunity to purchase, and right to organize.

Tenant Protections 101

Tenant advocates have long been pushing for a “tenants bill of rights” to codify rules that protect renters from landlords. Here’s a rundown of the top protections housing justice activists say need to be included.
A group of adults and children stand with colorful orange, yellow and blue signs. One sign reads, "Stop increasing our Rent."

Top 6 Tenant Protections Renters Are Fighting For

Tenants are organizing together with increased urgency to get legal protections passed in their towns, cities, and states. What are the top protections tenants are fighting for?

Homeowners Seeking Foreclosure Assistance Face Delays and Confusion in Many States

While a lot of attention has been paid to emergency rental assistance, foreclosure relief funds are also being distributed at the state level—and are also having mixed results getting to those who need them.

Income Averaging Allowed LIHTC Housing to Reach More People—Will It Last?

 A Trump-era policy that actually helped poor people could be dismantled by the IRS.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a White House podium.

Biden Has Power to Impose Rent Control, Say Housing Advocates

There’s legal precedent for the administration to limit rent hikes at least on all buildings with federally backed loans.

How to Retrofit the Housing Economy

Are policy changes enough to address the housing problems we face?

Hands Off the Houses: Can We Stop Speculative Land Grabs?

From the macro scale to the micro scale, there are many ways in which the housing market playing field is tilted toward financial firms—and many ways being proposed to start to tilt it back.

Could This Supreme Court Ruling Affect Fair Housing?

Experts on housing law discuss the potential repercussions of a recent Supreme Court decision that struck down the EPA’s authority in limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Could conservative judges apply the same rationale to limit HUD's authority?

How the Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy Drives Housing Inequality

If high home prices and rents are hallmarks of inequality, the actions of the Federal Reserve should give us pause. Its policy interventions have had profound effects on housing prices.
An illustration of folk—men and women–running after a home that's being taken away by an "inflation" balloon. The illustration has a blue tinge to it.

Unfair Market Rents: How Inflation Is Skewing FMRs

"Fair market rents" are set by HUD and used to determine how much federal assistance programs will pay toward rent. But with rental costs rising so rapidly, they aren't keeping up.

Proposed CRA Rule Receives Mixed Reviews from Housers

Public comment is open through Aug. 5 on proposed Community Reinvestment Act rule changes. They are worlds better than the Trump-era proposal. Why are some advocates still disappointed?

Something Old, Something New: Biden’s Housing Plan

President Biden’s Housing Supply Action Plan is a catchall of existing proposals, tiny tweaks, and things Congress would have to fund—plus a few genuinely interesting administrative moves. Here’s the rundown.

COVID Relief Funds Filling Some Housing Budget Gaps

As COVID relief funds have flowed out across the country, state and local governments have so far allotted at least $13.8 billion of their discretionary dollars to housing efforts.

Restorative Housing Policy: Can We Heal the Wounds of Redlining and Urban Renewal?

Our fair housing laws enshrine an approach that prohibits us from explicitly referring to race, even in programs intended to undo the harm caused by racism. Now restorative housing policy is attempting to directly confront this history.

Going Statewide to Boost ADU Development

ADUs are typically regulated at the local level, but advocates argue statewide legislation is what’s actually needed to get to scale. California has been aggressively leading the way.
US Congress on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. The housing portion of the Build Back Better plan likely won't happen.

What Happened to Those Build Back Better Housing Investments?

Build Back Better would have made huge new investments in housing. But most of what it promised isn’t going to happen. Would any housing plan have a chance of making it through Congress?

ADUs: Laws and Uses, Do’s and Don’ts

As ADUs gain national attention, cities are searching for the best ways to legalize their development and encourage construction.