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Report: Stronger State-Local Partnerships Needed for Solutions to Housing Crisis in California

March 25, 2019
Across the nation, cities are experiencing a housing crisis on many fronts, from homelessness and poor housing quality to lack of supply and affordability.
 
This diverse landscape demands that cities and states collaborate and that cities retain a broad set of tools to meet unique local needs. But in many states, the set of tools available to city leaders is limited. The National League of Cities (NLC), in collaboration with all 49 state municipal leagues, has released “Local Tools to Address Housing Affordability: A State-by-State Analysis,” to uncover how states interact with cities on key housing policies and the level of authority they provide to cities to implement proven strategies.

This new research finds that depending on their state and home rule authority, the ability of cities to improve housing conditions varies extensively across the country. This assessment of all 50 states and the District of Columbia across the five policy areas — inclusionary housing, rent control, housing vouchers, housing trust funds and states tax incentive programs — finds that the District of Columbia, as well as cities in New York and California have more tools to address housing affordability than other cities. This report is the fifth annual research project developed in collaboration with NLC and state municipal leagues.

No matter their size, level of prosperity or growth pressures, nearly all communities in the United States struggle with housing affordability. Whether the priority is housing supply, affordability, quality or helping households achieve economic mobility, cities need the proper tools and flexibility to meet the unique housing circumstances facing their communities.

Specific findings include that along with cities in California and the District of Columbia:
  • Nineteen other states are expressly permitted or face no legal barriers to inclusionary housing;
  • Twelve other states are permitted, have some barriers, or have limited control to implement rent control;
  • Thirty-four other states have established housing trust funds; and
  • Eighteen other states have state-level tax incentives for new construction and/or rehabilitation of existing low-income housing.
For both NLC and the 49 state municipal leagues, the topic of housing rose to the forefront as a top advocacy priority. In 2018, League Executive Director Carolyn Coleman and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf joined the new NLC housing task force, which seeks to develop a set of best and promising practices at the local level, as well as policy recommendations to federal and state governments.

The League of California Cities is continuing to strongly support legislation and budget proposals that streamline the housing approval process and increase funds for affordable housing, and is collaborating with the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Administration to find solutions to the state’s housing crisis. For more information on the League’s platform, read the League’s Blueprint for More Housing.


 
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