Image Source: North Charleston. Source License: CC BY-SA 2.0. Adaptations: cropped.

A Community-based Housing Strategy is a planning process to determine the needs or "gaps" between current conditions and desired housing conditions. It includes a discussion of what the community envisions for its desired housing conditions, and strategies to achieve them.

Why is this important to your community?

The CONNECT region’s population and demand for housing is expected to grow in the coming decades, and the Regional Housing Needs Assessment found a need for over 200,000 assisted rental units and homeownership units at price points typically lower than market-rate housing. But, there are also communities that lack housing that would attract young professionals or managers, and so thus lack an important business-recruitment tool. Having a local Community-based Housing Strategy in place helps a community to determine their specific current and future housing needs, answer questions about demographic and housing trends (Do we have adequate housing in locations accessible for seniors?  Can we attract young entrepreneurs?), and develop strategies to meet those needs. Identifying any outstanding gaps or needs for housing is the first step in understanding how, when, and where to address local housing needs.

assisted units needed at price points lower than market-rate in the CONNECT region

How does it work?

Local officials, usually a housing authority or other local government staff, start a Community-based Housing Strategy by asking basic questions such as who can and cannot afford to live in this community and what is the affordability gap between what residents can afford and the actual cost of housing. It is also important to try to learn who has not been able to find suitable housing in the county; for example, how far away would a plant manager or a physician need to live to find appropriate housing?  Working with available data sources such as the U.S. Census, existing market studies, reports from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the data-rich CONNECT Regional Housing Assessment, and local realtors, staff members collect a variety of information about the community’s demographic trends, current housing stock, income levels, and other pertinent information. This information forms the “assessment” piece of the Community-based Housing Strategy that states the need for affordable rental and homeownership housing for a variety of demographic groups, leading to a series of strategies to meet those needs.

Ready to get started?

Using the Tool

  • Contact the Centralina or Catawba Council of Governments for information, resources, and data available from the CONNECT Regional Housing Assessment and Regional FHEA that can be used to begin a Community-based Housing Strategy. Survey local plans and policies, including the Community Housing Improvement Strategy and FHEA if applicable.
  • Create a working group of representatives from community/economic development staff, housing authorities, housing providers, nonprofits, housing advocates, real estate professionals, and residents to assist in preparing the CBHS.. Topics to cover in developing the community’s housing profile and local needs include:
    • Affordability of local housing
    • Range of housing options available
    • Level to which housing is adequate for special needs and senior populations
    • Any issues with substandard, vacant, blighted housing that need to be addressed
    • Level to which housing is suitable to support economic growth and business recruitment
    • Local residents’ take on housing needs and issues, from surveys and/or focus groups
  • Utilizing the data collected from the “assessment” phase, reference the resources and related tools listed in this document and related links to develop strategies to address any gaps in housing availability.
  • Ensure housing strategies are integrated and consistent with other community plans and the Regional Housing Assessment.
  • Provide policy and budgetary support for the housing strategies and actions that result from the local CBHS. This may involve changes to land use or zoning, shifted emphasis on development of one or another housing types, incenting the development of certain types of housing, or other policy shifts.
  • Seek out public private partnerships and funding as projects are identified that implement the CBHS.

Where has it worked?

Asheville Regional Housing Consortium, Housing Needs Assessment and Market Study - City of Asheville and Asheville Regional Housing Consortium

Image Source: The Urban News.



Pat Coyle
Colorado Division of Housing

About the Program

The housing needs assessment and market study examine the specific housing needs for four North Carolina Counties: Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania. The study utilized data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey (ACS) to determine demographic trends for the four-county area. The housing assessment found that population and economic growth throughout the region has been stable with low wages compared to the state and the nation. Additionally, over an eight-year period, homeownership rates fell, vacancy and rental burden rates increased, while subsidized housing vouchers became harder to obtain. The assessment projected that rental needs will continue to be unmet, the population will continue to age, and homeownership rates will continue to decrease. A number of potential strategies emerged during the process to address the mismatch of housing and demographic trends, including zoning density bonuses for affordable housing, using HOPE VI or Choice Neighborhoods funding to revitalize distressed public housing, and creating Local Housing Trust Funds (HTFs) to provide low-interest loans for affordable housing development.

Why it works

The study examines the current housing market, both homeownership and rental, as well as subsidized housing, public housing, and special needs housing and calculates housing needs and gaps and provides potential strategies to address clear gaps in housing. This gives the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium the opportunity to implement a number of these strategies with local partners (e.g., developers, economic development authorities) and apply for planning or implementation funding with the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

City-Wide Housing Strategy - Greenville, SC

Image Source: Homes of Hope.



About the Program

The Greenville City-Wide Housing Strategy is part of a comprehensive planning effort focused on establishing connections between affordable housing, transportation options, economic development opportunities, and open space throughout the City. The project, entitled Connections for Sustainability: Linking Greenville’s Neighborhoods to Jobs and Open Space, was made possible by community planning grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), along with other significant local and federal contributions.

The City-Wide Housing Strategy was completed in 2012 and involved an extensive public outreach effort. The result is a roadmap for increasing housing options for all income levels over the next 10-20 years.

The goals and strategies detailed within the City-Wide Housing Strategy revolve around four core focus areas:

  • Greenville Needs Growth to Support Preferred Housing Initiatives that concentrate on providing housing that attracts young professionals drawn in by Downtown and other amenities, but also a larger share of families and households who prefer properties with at least 3 bedrooms.
  • Infill Development, because Greenville is mostly built out and has limited options for annexation. This means that future growth must be accommodated within existing city limits and that the City must organize and adjust its resources to understand the particular market and regulatory hurdles related to developing within Greenville.
  • Targeting Limited Resources, both staffing and finances within select areas of Greenville, to leverage private investment and subsequent revitalization at a faster pace than spreading those resources among numerous areas.
  • Targeting Major Public Sector Investment to catalyze private investment in those specific areas, thus allowing the City to transition its investment between neighborhoods as the private sector responds through investment, development, and new residents. The report recommends that the City create a special redevelopment fund that can be a true catalyst for neighborhood revitalization and new housing development.

Why it works

The three-year Connections for Sustainability project aimed to better connect affordable housing, transportation options, and economic development throughout the City of Greenville. The planning initiative focused heavily on Greenville’s west side neighborhoods which, despite significant reinvestment during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, still struggle with higher concentrations of low-income households, higher crime rates, and more blighted infrastructure than the rest of the city. Connections for Sustainability led to the development of the West Side Comprehensive Plan. The comprehensive plan outlines specific actions to implement a “Home for Everyone” policy that includes housing programs to stabilize the West Side neighborhoods, as well as catalytic development opportunities and private and public investment strategies to support revitalization.