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Opinion: Fix the Housing Crisis? It’s Complicated, But Not Insurmountable.

Opinion: Fix the Housing Crisis? It’s Complicated, But Not Insurmountable.

Different U.S. cities each have their own housing affordability challenges. Brooks Rainwater, Director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities, outlines housing policies that are working in CityLab. 

Just like the many bigger metros that have become famous for their housing crunches, Bozeman will try a relatively simple regulatory tweak to address their housing supply problem: They’ve made a zoning code change that makes accessory dwelling units and duplexes easier to build. The city’s Planning Department worked collaboratively with students from Montana State’s Architecture department in late 2018 to create designs for ADUs that have now been presented to community residents: They’re code compliant, address issues with parking, and fit within the 600 square foot ADU size limit. Tied together with other moves like developing dense, clustered homes with the Trust for Public Lands, Bozeman is creating solutions on housing.

Solutions are needed, because housing is in a state of crisis in America, and not just in booming places like San Francisco and Seattle: Nearly 40 million households, including half of all renters, are now spending more than 30 percent of income on housing. Demand is outstripping supply, with not enough new housing being built and too few existing affordable units preserved. Add in a dollop of local zoning restrictions, a heaping generation’s worth of federal disinvestment in housing, and a splash of NIMBYism, and we have a recipe for coast-to-coast disaster.

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