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Climbing the Ladder of Housing Opportunity

The Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley has issued “Building a Better Ladder of Housing Opportunity in the United States,” a report suggesting ways to reform the way the federal government structures housing investment and regulatory oversight.

“Effective housing policy should foster a ladder of opportunity, where government policies help people at each rung and facilitate their ability to advance,” said the Terner Center in its release. “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.”

Building a Better Ladder of Housing Opportunity in the United States” addresses three primary objectives:

  • Right-sizing and better targeting subsidies directly to households;
  • Expanding and harmonizing housing supply-oriented resources and tools to support increased production and an 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 Terner Center identified the start of President Joe Biden’s Administration as an opportunity to lay the foundation for systemic housing reform to create a system that makes good on the 1949 Housing Act’s promise of “safe and affordable housing for all.”

In better targeting subsidies directly to households, the Terner Center proposes:

  • Recognizing a path to full housing recovery, expanding COVID-19 relief to protect against evictions, and the potential loss of affordable stock.
  • Beyond pandemic response, expanding and improving on target rental assistance for households with very low incomes.
  • Restructuring housing-related tax expenditures to better support low- and moderate-income households, including renters.

In expanding housing supply resources and tools to support production and housing choices, the Terner Center suggests:

  • Creating flexible supply-side subsidies that operate at a multi-jurisdictional scale, and investing in capacity to administer those funds.
  • Improving the allocation of existing production-oriented resources, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.
  • Aligning financing tools in support of unsubsidized housing production that advances affordability, leveraging federal tools such as the Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Home Loan Banks, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac financing products.
  • 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 report cites accountability for localities and private market actors to advancing fair housing, and suggests the following:

  • Strengthening federal regulatory framework to support housing goals, while guarding against racist policies and market practices.
  • Conditioning existing funding to support the adoption of pro-housing policies.
  • Tying new funding to regional housing goals and providing performance incentives.

Click here to view the full report, “Building a Better Ladder of Housing Opportunity in the United States.”

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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