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Case Studies

The Prosperity Playbook case study series takes a deep dive into some of the most innovative practices from around the U.S. that communities are using to expand opportunity. New case studies will be added over time, and we encourage new submissions.

Use the interactive map below to locate case studies by geography, or filter by category. Additionally, the Solutions Database offers more tools related to the themes in each case study.

Communities increasingly recognize the importance of coordination between transportation planning and community development. As smart growth, mixed-use development increasingly occurs where transit is accessible, the elevated housing costs that result often price out moderate-income residents. Increasingly developers demand that cities provide assistance to the market in order to make affordable housing solutions work. TOD funds can be an effective tool for encouraging the development of affordable housing around transit nodes, for example by incorporating housing equity considerations into allocation formulas. Regional transit authorities are also stepping up and playing an important role in the agenda of marrying housing and mobility.

Counties, cities and towns are increasingly considering regional solutions and consolidating resources, particularly given reduced tax bases and declining federal and state support. Regional Mayors’ forums provide regular opportunities to advance common goals such as ensuring a continuum of housing options at all price levels throughout the region and developing regional financing tools. Such cooperation also facilitates addressing problematic issues such as regional competition and balance, i.e., CDBG allocation to entitlement vs. non-entitlement communities. Additionally, as a unified regional voice, these collaboratives can also appeal to state administrators/legislators to better understand and address local community struggles.

American families are growing in number but shrinking in size. More people are staying single longer, married couples are having fewer children, and people are living longer—often alone. There is an acute shortage of affordable rental housing, in particular for people as they age; older adults are the fastest growing homeless population in Minnesota and in many other places around the country. Over the next ten years, the number of households aged 65-74 with “severe” rent burdens (where expenditures on housing account for above ½ of household income) are projected to rise by 42% (Harvard, 2014). Underused space in single-family houses and on lots is one of the nation’s largest untapped housing resources. Many of the more flexible housing options (e.g., accessory dwelling units, multigenerational housing, shared housing, older adult congregate housing or cohousing, and the adaptive reuse of a variety of community structures) are not new, but they have been refocused for the roles they can play in meeting the evolving needs of the burgeoning older-adult population.

The United States is facing a housing affordability crisis. Today, there are fewer low cost units than ever before, and one in five households pays more than half of their income for rent. As rents continue to outpace income for all renters, low- and middle income families face the most hardship, and many are now struggling to find affordable places to live. The dwindling supply of affordable housing must be addressed through the creative use of various policies and financial tools, both to spur new development of affordable housing and to preserve and maximize the life of existing affordable units. Particularly in high-cost cities, multiple challenges combine to limit the development of new affordable housing. At the same time, various factors threaten the current affordable housing stock, including the expiration of subsidies, an aging housing stock which requires large capital investments, and the ever increasing market pressure.

Regional cross-sector partnerships can often build the kind of mutual understanding and trust that is needed to tackle tough community issues such as advancing equity. Given the structural capacity to catalyze and convene such a coalition, they can serve as a vehicle for continued coordination and collaboration. Sometimes these coalitions are stakeholder-driven and in other cases they reflect participatory innovations by regional planning bodies. HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative grants have succeeded in building the capacity of stakeholders to plan and act regionally in numerous places around the country. This section will share stories that illustrate what it takes to form and sustain an effective, broad-based regional coalition.

Home is the foundation for stable families and strong communities, and stable housing is the foundation for better health, educational, and economic outcomes. These are the kinds of messages that need to be conveyed in the struggle to communicate the importance of affordable housing to the general public and decision-makers and to overcome NIMBYism and other opposition. Furthermore, we must shift the dialogue within communities that are undergoing change, in order to will build social capital and develop the capacity of citizen advocates to act as effective participants in planning processes. This section presents some successful initiatives around speaking with communities about change and empowering community residents to speak for themselves.

Gentrification often induces strong feelings about two opposing ideas—gentrification is a good thing because it improves the neighborhood and brings more amenities; or gentrification is a bad thing because it can be a catalyst for displacement of vulnerable populations (i.e., people with low credit scores, renters, or long-term residents). As more people seek urban living and the demand increases, it is important to engage communities in discussions about neighborhood change so that they can both inform and affect policies that will take advantage of the benefits of neighborhood revitalization and minimize the negative impacts on vulnerable populations. Coordinated anti-displacement strategies are most effective when implemented during the early stages of gentrification. Evidence suggests that strong partnerships between community organizations, creating opportunities for existing residents, and an articulated strategy for addressing change significantly increase chances for success.