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Why Housing Policy Is Missing the Mark

Every nation and community – developed or emerging – face the challenge of attending to basic needs of society. This can be most obvious in when addressing housing regardless of economic levels. Many forces are at play when addressing housing policies; from affordability, green initiatives, urbanization, and financing, to infrastructure, public safety, economic viability and regulations. To address the requirements for housing, it is best to consider what makes communities sustainable. Recent failures in the capital markets have made it clear that the state of housing policy throughout the world is mired by the lack of vision and planning necessary to align all stakeholders.

The policy paradigm for most countries must shift from fragmented public policies centered on housing as “roofs-over-heads” to a unified multi-stakeholder public policy centered on integrated and economically viable communities. All stakeholders must be aligned and armed with the same information, objectives, common language, and vision to achieve a vision that meets the desired outcomes.

For the past three years, DRC has researched issues effecting housing throughout the world and proposes common themes from both literature and observation. At a minimum, the new framework must emerge to include governance, economic, environmental, and social factors to align stakeholders. We call this framework the Sustainable and Viable Communities. (SVC) Sustainable and Viable Communities are defined as a community where real returns from income-producing entities sustain all community segments and housing is one component of community.

A Model for Sustainable & Viable Communities sustainable cities with pillars eng

For more than two decades, housing related programs have not yielded expected results:

  • Many organizations are trying to solve the same problems without a common vision or comprehensive plan
  • Existing programs focus on “roofs-over-heads” to the exclusion of housing as part of the larger context of community
  • Scaling successful programs have been nascent at best
  • Financing driven by near term objectives are limiting the reach of capital and concentrating financial risks

Leaders need a new model – one that breaks the traditional barriers among stakeholders and promotes the collaboration and alignment among the public and private interests. Until this happens the housing sector with continue to falter, banks will miss the mark, markets will be under served and communities will languish.