The issue of affordable housing is a complex and multi-faceted one. It often runs counter to the market principles, and is viewed with the same scrutiny and judgment as welfare programs at large. Affordable housing programs are funded primarily at the federal level, administered at the state level, and finally implemented through local communities. Given this relationship, it may seem that local communities have very little say in the way that affordable housing develops. This paper explores how empowering localities to tackle this issue through planning initiatives can have a significant impact on quality of life for low-income individuals. In this paper, the challenges for local governments are reviewed and evaluated: involved are the ability and willingness to use innovative planning and zoning techniques and strategic partnerships to achieve affordable housing goals tailored to the needs of the locality. Some localities focus more on place based strategies while others are people-based. Affordable housing policies change frequently, leading to lives of continuous upheaval for those in need of this safety net. The cases of two Michigan communities, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor are reviewed. Both communities face high needs for affordable housing. Each has either embraced innovation at the planning level or has remained unable to fully adopt innovations. Grand Rapids has worked with many nonprofits to provide affordable housing, in combination with a revamping of traditional zoning codes to serve their low income populations more effectively than has Ann Arbor, which also has a high student population in need of affordable housing. Recommendations for local government officials seeking to meet the needs of lower-income constituents are presented.
"Local Government and Affordable Housing Tools,"
SPNHA Review: Vol. 14
, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/spnhareview/vol14/iss1/7