States across the nation are facing housing shortages resulting in an affordability crisis, and the Northeast is no exception. Fewer new homes are being built now than prior to the Great Recession, according to national findings by Fannie Mae and a regional study by the Regional Planning Association.

As the cost to purchase or rent a home increasingly becomes out of reach for many, income inequality is rising in the United States. Median household incomes also fell in the aftermath of the Great Recession, contributing to a 15-year stagnation. It took until 2015 for median household income to climb back to where it was in 2000 (adjusted for inflation). The widening gap between high-income and low-income earners is being reflected in the market’s behavior. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that an increasing share of the limited new home construction is being built for the higher-cost market segment.

To unpack these challenges, CSG East hosted an affordable housing webinar on Tuesday, November 14 on “State Measures to Improve Affordable Housing Access.” Opening remarks were delivered by Peggy Bailey, the Vice President for Housing and Income Security at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who highlighted several ways states can influence housing affordability and access: “When it comes to housing, many of those policy choices can be mitigated at the state and local level, policies that can reverse redlining and improve residential integration, that direct resources to affordable housing and community development, and thinking about helping ease the capital costs that it takes to build affordable housing.”

Recommendations to states for improving affordable housing access include the following:

    1. Rental subsidy for low-income workers
    2. Expanding tenant-based protections to reduce evictions
    3. Talking with developers about financing challenges
    4. Addressing zoning laws and advancing inclusionary zoning
    5. Addressing the burdensome environmental review process

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