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PD&R Edge, an online magazine, provides you with a snapshot view of our newly released research, periodicals, publications, news, and commentaries on housing and urban development issues. Stay informed on current topics and check back frequently, as our content is routinely updated.
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Creating the National Zoning Atlas

Scholars estimate that approximately 30,000 zoning districts are spread across the United States. The decentralized and complex nature of zoning means that anyone with a stake in land use decisions — including developers, academics, advocates, and the public — may struggle to understand and respond to existing codes. However, state-by-state efforts are underway to create the National Zoning Atlas, which will centralize and organize every zoning code in the United States, reported panelists at the 2023 National Planning Conference, held in Philadelphia in April. The atlas aims to offer insight into zoning’s effects and democratize land use decisionmaking through comprehensive, digitized, and user-friendly zoning information.

New on PD&R Edge

PD&R Leadership:
International Exchanges to Understand Social Housing Opportunities
In May 2023, a small departmental delegation from HUD attended the International Social Housing Festival in Barcelona. Held biennially at sites throughout Europe, the festival showcases innovative housing developments and designs from across the continent. While housing policies differ, many nations are experiencing housing affordability challenges, creating an opportunity to learn from nations’ differing approaches to creating and maintaining affordable housing.

In Practice:
Leveraging New Policy Tools to Accelerate Affordable Housing in California
In San Jose, California — the largest city in the Bay Area — affordable housing developer Affirmed Housing leveraged new policy and funding tools to create Vela. This 87-unit project sets aside half of the units for people with experiences of homelessness. Those policies include Measure A, a county-level, voter-approved initiative authorizing up to $950 million to create housing for vulnerable populations; Senate Bill 35, which provides a streamlined approval process for qualifying affordable housing developments; and a new state-level affordable housing tax credit.

International & Philanthropic Spotlight:
Eradicating Homelessness in Finland
Finland has become a model in deploying an innovative public policy strategy that has virtually eliminated homelessness within its borders. Through the 1990s, Finland used the “staircase” or “treatment first” approach to addressing homelessness, which entails housing individuals only after receiving treatment for mental illnesses, drug abuse, or other ailments. Today, Finland uses a Housing First approach combined with robust support for public housing that has largely succeeded in making homelessness brief, rare, and nonrecurring.

Housing in the Context of Neighborhood Decline
A new working paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies discusses the effects of urban neighborhood decline on housing as a product of sustained disinvestment. While some cities struggle with affordability due to rapid but unequal economic gains, many areas with an industrial legacy continue to struggle with population loss and economic decline. The paper’s authors argue for a conceptual shift in studies of poverty that takes a broader view of social and economic indicators.

Spotlight on PD&R Data:
Strong Economic Conditions and a Tight but Easing Housing Market in the Phoenix HMA
The Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, Arizona Housing Market Area (Phoenix HMA) is coterminous with the metropolitan statistical area of the same name and includes Maricopa and Pinal counties in central Arizona. Economic conditions in the HMA are strong, with significant growth in the manufacturing sector thanks to large investments by Intel Corporation and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited. The sales housing market in the HMA is slightly tight but easing. The overall sales vacancy rate is estimated at 1.8 percent, reflecting a decrease from 4.3 percent in 2010, when conditions were very soft. Sales market conditions eased from very tight when interest rates started to rise in January 2022.

PD&R at 50:
The History of the AHS – 1973 - 2023
The American Housing Survey (AHS) is the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States. Since it started in 1973, the AHS has provided data on the characteristics, costs, and quality of the nation’s housing stock and the demographic characteristics of households. Before the AHS existed, the only data on the nation’s housing collected by the U.S. Census Bureau was from the decennial censuses, one-time sample surveys, and a survey of vacant housing units. The AHS has long been an innovative survey. Over the years, HUD and Census staff have worked hard to design and collect valid and reliable housing data to inform housing policy.

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