Strategy of the Month: Responding to the Housing Crisis

April 2010

In light of America's foreclosure crisis, the nation's municipal leaders are seeking out new ideas and strategies to assist their local communities in the recovery process. In December 2009, the National League of Cities (NLC) invited experts in various housing-related fields to participate in a strategic action discussion forum. To summarize key discussion themes and recommendations put forth by participants at the day-long forum, NLC released the report, Responding to the Housing Crisis. The report provides suggestions for local, state, federal, and NLC leaders to address challenges such as ending homelessness, ensuring an adequate supply of affordable rental housing, and promoting homeownership opportunities.

A picture of a foreclosure sign.Experts weighed in on strategies to tackle homelessness that would strengthen local 10-year plans and drum up community support by emphasizing municipal cost savings — related to police and other emergency services — that can result from a reduction in the homeless population. Another suggestion for municipalities was to open government-owned foreclosed properties to house the homeless.

To preserve and expand the rental housing stock, forum discussants recommended increasing the inventory of homes to keep rents affordable. Incentives for expanding rental home development include the adoption of regulatory strategies such as reduced impact fees for developers of affordable rental units, inclusionary zoning ordinances, lease-purchase agreements, and shared-equity homeownership.

A recommendation for affordable homeownership was the provision of appropriate housing counseling that recognizes rental housing as a viable alternative to homeownership for some families and individuals.

The report also discusses the utility of regional resiliency in the face of the foreclosure crisis, emphasizing the significance of coordinating efforts among municipal planners, transportation authorities, and housing staff. The experts also noted the importance of building financial and consumer literacy to help prevent future foreclosures and assist efforts to keep families in their homes.

For a more detailed discussion of solutions to the housing crisis, view the report in its entirety at

We hope this information will assist communities as they continue to look for ways to increase regional resiliency. If you have successfully implemented regulatory reform measures, would like to share resources, or require assistance in identifying additional policy tools, research, or strategies available through our searchable online Clearinghouse database, email us at, or call us at 1-800-245-2691 (option 4), or visit our website at

Feel free to forward this message to friends and colleagues with an interest in successful regional responses to the foreclosure crisis.