5 Cities Working to Preserve Affordable Housing


With rising housing costs, renters across the United States are struggling to find affordable housing. Millennials—who comprise half of all renters—have to balance appreciating rents with high student loan debt and low wages. The availability of affordable housing is paramount, as it allows Americans to save money, provide stability for their families and create better lives.

A recent report from the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) highlights five American cities that are actively working to maintain affordable housing options for their residents: Atlanta, GA, Columbus, OH, Denver, CO, Minneapolis, MN and San Diego, CA.

Atlanta, GA

“The City of Atlanta is currently experiencing a surge in multifamily housing construction brought about by a strong regional economy and growing demand for urban living.”

A recent resolution by Atlanta’s City Council established that any multifamily real estate development project receiving public assistance must:

  • Set aside a minimum of 15% of the units for residents earning no more than 80% of the area median income or;
  • Set aside 10% for residents earning no more than 60% of the area median income
  • Rental rates must not exceed 30% of the area median income as defined by HUD guidelines

Columbus, OH

“Some of the programs put in place focus on removing regulatory barriers inhibiting all types of housing production, while others specifically seek to encourage the development of affordable housing in targeted areas in need of assistance.”

  • The Building Service Department of the City of Columbus formed a council that meets monthly to discuss policy changes and procedural improvements
  • Columbus increased the number of Community Reinvestment Areas and Neighborhood Improvement Districts in its jurisdiction
  • A land banking system has been created to make it easier to redevelop vacant or abandoned properties

Denver, CO

“A steady influx of residents is straining the rental housing supply, as evidenced by a double-digit percentage increase in rental rates in a very short period of time. Rising costs have left over 70,000 low- and moderate-income renter households moderately to severely cost burdened.”

  • On January 1, 2017, Denver created an ordinance that requires almost all developers with new projects to contribute to an affordable housing fund
  • Residential developers have the option to apply for reduced parking ratios in all areas if they include affordable housing in their projects

Minneapolis, MN

“Unfortunately, these features have also created robust demand for rental housing in urban neighborhoods, effectively pricing low- and moderate-income families out of the markets.”


  • Minneapolis pledged to make sure city-assisted housing projects result in an aggregate net increase in units accessible to households making between 30-60 percent of the area median income
  • The city passed a mandate that requires all city –assisted housing projects bigger than 10 units to set aside 20 percent of units for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income

San Diego, CA

“Like many places in California, demand for housing in San Diego consistently exceeds supply, resulting in upward pressure on prices throughout the market.”

  • San Diego’s mandatory Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires residential developers that plan to build two or more rental units to pay an inclusionary affordable housing fee which is then loaned to private developers for the construction of units targeting low-, very low-, and extremely low-income households
  • Any strictly rental housing project within half a mile of a bus, rail stop or ferry restricted for low- or very low-income households qualifies for a parking ratio of half a space for every unit

These are just some of the methods these five cities are utilizing to keep affordable housing accessible for their residents. To read the full report, please, click here.

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