How To Approach Your City

Before contacting city officials, the following information on this website should be reviewed: 

  1. The City SnapshotThis will tell you whether your city is fully developed or still growing.  You will find out how well your city is doing meeting its current LCA goals and what the city's LUPA goal is for 2010-2020.  It will provide census information on housing conditions in your city, and in some cases, additional pertinent facts.

  2. City responses to CURA survey.  If your city participated, the results will provide insight into barriers to affordable housing production in your city and the city's experience with, and willingness to use, various policies to promote affordable housing.

  3. Finally, the Potential Solutions section of the website should be reviewed, in order to keep in mind practices that the city could begin using or use more often.

Here are some key things to look for:

  • Is the city behind on meeting LCA goals?  If so, ask city officials how they plan to catch up.

  • If they are behind on LCA and also have a sizeable LUPA goal for the next decade, how will the city plan to do better to meet its future goal?

  • If the city is largely developed but still has goals, how will the city ensure that redevelopment opportunities are identified?

  • Once affordable units are produced, how will the city ensure that they remain affordable?
  • Most cities will typically list a variety of affordable housing "tools" as practices that they have used in the past.  It is worth asking, though, how often these practices have been employed.  If not often, why?  It is also critical to inquire about the "message" that a city sends to housing developers.  Some cities have a policy of asking developers, as a matter of course, to include an affordability component in all developments.  Others view these decisions as being solely up to the developer.  The first approach is much more likely to lead to more affordable units.  What approach does your city take?

    In approaching the city, it's generally a good idea to start with city staff working in planning or community development.  Besides asking the questions set out above, ask if there is other information available that you should review.  For example, some cities have created affordable housing advisory task forces that have issued reports.  In talking with city staff, see what suggestions staff have for getting more affordable housing produced.  Once potential changes are identified, sort out which ones can be implemented at the staff level and which ones might require action by the City Council or Planning Commission.

    Once you've learned all you need to know, then it's time to advocate.  You might be able to identify a list of actions your city can take.  Even if you are unable to do that, if your city is behind on goals or faces large goals for the future, you can place the burden on the city to identify actions it can take to do better. 

    Housing Preservation Project

    Housing Justice Center Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Institute on Race & Poverty The McKnight Foundation
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