Housing & Land Use

Safe, affordable and accessible housing remains a core element of the American Dream. The need for predictability in the mortgage finance markets presents an ongoing challenge for cities. It is therefore essential that local leaders plan for land uses that help residents match the array of housing needs they have over a lifetime with appropriate housing options in the community. Resources here include research studies, conference reports, individual city case examples, policy recommendations and opinion pieces.

    Metropolitan Leadership Forum, Phoenix, Arizona
    As part of a project focusing on leadership roles and policy decisions by municipal elected officials and their partners in community organizations across Arizona, the National League of Cities hosted a Metropolitan Leadership Forum in Phoenix during February 2013.  At the conclusion of the forum, participants identified action steps in the fields of planning, partnership, leadership and citizen engagement that will help to build more sustainable and resilient communities.

    Boston Housing Strategies Serve Residents for the Long-term
    In the city of Boston, local leaders are committed to long-term efforts that educate new mortgage borrowers, support existing homeowners, mitigate foreclosure and stabilize neighborhoods.  Initiatives such as the Boston Home Center, Don’t Borrow Trouble and the Foreclosure Intervention Team have helped to achieve resilient neighborhoods that provide opportunities for economic prosperity for the city’s residents.

    Managing Foreclosed and Vacant Properties
    Access to the webinar on Managing Foreclosed and Vacant Properties which highlights a resource publication from NLC and also presents perspectives from the banking industry and from private sector managers of vacant properties (Four presentations; running time approx. 70 minutes)

    Baltimore, Md., Works to Reduce Vacant Housing and Urban Blight
    As a result of one of the largest percentage declines in population among major U.S. cities from 1950 to 2000, Baltimore is challenged with approximately 16,000 vacant buildings, roughly 25% of which are city owned. Baltimore Housing estimates that more than 5,700 of the vacant structures are in areas with existing or emerging development demand.

    • Brooks CNN InterviewBaltimore Tackles Vacant Home Plight (CNN, June 10, 2012)
      CNN's Athena Jones looks at Baltimore's effort to fill thousands of vacant homes--a challenge many US cities are facing.  Featured in this segment is NLC's James Brooks, program director for community development & infrastructure.


    Managing Foreclosures and Vacant Properties (2012)

    City leaders play a key role in working with national, state, local and non-profit partners to help residents keep their homes and help communities cope with the ongoing effects of the foreclosure crisis. This guide offers solutions for the challenges that cities and city leaders face in dealing with foreclosures: preventing vacancies, preventing deterioration, rehabilitation and re-use and demolition.

    Resilience in the Face of Foreclosures
    The National League of Cities teamed up as a partner in the Building Resilient Region's Network (BRR). BRR, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, is a network of scholars and practitioners exploring regional solutions to a variety of challenges.


    Foreclosures, Unemployment, Home Price & Building Permits in the U.S. and 20 U.S. Cities
    A study of housing foreclosures, unemployment rates, average home price, and number of building permits issued for new housing between 2007 and 2010 in the U.S. shows that, after initial increases in foreclosures (depicted in red in Figure 1) and unemployment (depicted in green in Figure 1), these rates leveled off between 2009 and 2010. 

    Jackson, Mich., Seeks to Eliminate Blight, Vacant Properties (February 27, 2012)
    Difficult economic times have forced cities to embrace their creativity and develop innovative methods for addressing challenges. The City of Jackson, Mich., has begun to explore a number of initiatives, such as form-based codes and shared-service agreements to improve efficiency throughout its local government. Strengthening the interactions among the city's staff is also at the core of the problem-solving approach in Jackson.

    Screaming for Housing Demolition (February 16, 2012)
    In a country that cannot adequately house all of its citizens, both government and private-sector actors will bulldoze more than two million homes in the time before us. Implemented on a vast scale already thanks to dollars from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), the pace of demolition will quicken as the winter months recede. 

    How Can Municipalities Confront the Vacant Property Challenge?
    A collaboration between the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest produced a report in March 2010. The brief offers nine tools to respond to the challenge of vacant and abandoned properties in the context of the home mortgage foreclosure crisis.