Building a Better Ladder of Housing Opportunity in the United States

Effective housing policy should foster a ladder of opportunity, where government policies help people at each rung and facilitate their ability to advance. But the ladder we have today has multiple rungs missing, others spaced too far apart, and many rungs only accessible to certain people or communities. 

Today, the Terner Center has published our proposed framework to reform the way the federal government structures housing investment and regulatory oversight: Building a Better Ladder of Housing Opportunity in the United States.

The beginning of the new Biden administration is an opportunity to lay the foundation for systemic reform to create a housing system that makes good on the 1949 Housing Act’s promise of “safe and affordable housing for all.” Our framework identifies how to improve the federal government’s approach to housing policy as well as the role of housing in achieving other goals, such as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, stimulating an economic recovery, redressing racial inequities, and confronting climate change.

Our proposal addresses three core objectives:

  • Right sizing and better targeting subsidies directly to households,
  • Expanding and harmonizing housing supply-oriented resources and tools to support increased production and a broader array of housing choices, and
  • Strengthening incentives and accountability for localities and private market actors to ensure they are advancing fair housing, rooting out systemic racism, and supporting climate resilience.

The full framework and an executive summary are available here.

This framework will tee up further discussion and research on reforms to federal housing policy that we will be rolling out over the spring and summer of 2021. We welcome your questions and feedback, and look forward to continuing the conversation around building a system that better serves the country’s housing needs.