Housing Tools

Written by: Lauren Stiles, Jenni Stivrins, and Daniel Yaniv

Affordable housing means different things to different people, age groups and community segments. In the past affordable housing was equated with mediocre architecture, high-rise buildings and crime ridden neighborhoods. For many years government subsidy programs defined affordable housing as housing affordable to community members whose incomes fell well below that of the median. Today, however, affordable housing has taken on greater significance to middle class households that are slowly being “housed-out” of their local real-estate markets. In a sense the “affordable housing” initiative has evolved into an “accessible housing” revolution.

From a community planning perspective, it is critical that community leaders lay out a foundational master plan that determines the make-up and demographics of its constituency. If a community wishes to keep its younger members who have started families of their own, their elder members who are forced to live on fixed incomes or its teachers, town employees and volunteer firefighters, it needs to develop and implement a housing plan that is accessible to these groups. It is likely the only way a community can expect to maintain balanced and diverse citizenry.

Although there is no individual constitutional right to affordable housing, the New York appellate courts have found that a municipality may not legitimately exercise its zoning authority to effectuate socioeconomic or racial discrimination. Furthermore state statutes have provided municipalities with a variety of mechanisms that can be used to encourage and provide desired affordable housing. These methods include a combination of zoning incentives, cost effective construction techniques, and governmental subsidies directed at households who cannot afford market rate housing. Ultimately it is incumbent upon all communities to ensure that a “balanced, well ordered plan exists and that regional needs be considered” so as not to practice exclusionary zoning within any given municipality.

These zoning objectives and initiatives can be achieved by various parties maintaining a vested interest in their community and its constituency. These parties range from the community members themselves, to local officials, developers, and state legislatures. Moreover, private developers and non-for profit organizations are authorized to organize state-regulated housing companies under various articles of the Private Housing Finance Law which was adapted in 1955. These laws allow for the creation of housing companies and municipal project assistance thru tax abatement, acquisition and disposition of real property, and direct financial subsidies and supportive infrastructure. Additionally, various New York statutes encourage local governments to enter into intermunicipal agreements or to work with their county governments.  This insures that the provision of affordable housing is done equitably so that each community works to further its housing objectives and provide its fair share of the area’s housing needs.

This section of the Land Use Law Center’s website contains numerous helpful resources for anyone interested in affordable housing issues.   Below you will find a wealth of educational materials as well as a number of links to technical, financial, government and non-profit resources.  A link is also provided to New York statutory provisions and case law relevant to housing concerns.


Affordable Housing – Resources


Why is Affordable Housing Needed?:

This section offers a number of resources aimed at educating members of the community, as well as developers and local governments, of the need for affordable housing.


Practical Resources on How to Create Affordable Housing?: 

This section offers a number of resources aimed at educating the public on how to create affordable housing.  This section also includes a number of affordable housing success stories.


Technical Resources:

This section offers a number of technical resources that can be used in creating affordable housing.



Financial Resources:

This section offers a number of financial resources that are helpful for financing affordable housing projects.  The page includes a number of sources for grants, loans, etc.


Government Resources:

This section offers a number of government main pages that deal with the issues surrounding the affordable housing situation.


Non-Profit Resources:

This section offers a number of non-profit organizations and advocacy groups that work to help further communities’ successes in affordable housing.



This link includes other helpful resources for those who have questions about the various aspects of affordable housing.


Statutes and Cases




Why Do We Need Affordable Housing?


Meeting Housing Needs [PLUL*]

This book is available for purchase through the Pace University Land Use Law Center and is part of the Starting Ground Series.


Housing Supply and Affordability[PLUL*]

Written by Frank Schnidman and Jane A. Silverman for the Urban Land Institute in 1983, this book defines the affordable housing issue, discusses the role of the local government, and how to improve housing finance in an inflationary market.


Establishing a Right to Housing [PLUL*]

The National Clearinghouse for Legal Services, Inc. in 1991 released this book that describes why people who work full time should have access to decent, affordable housing.


State Policies for Affordable Housing [PLUL*]

Written by Margaret A. Smith for the National Conference of State Legislatures in 1983, this book discusses why affordable housing is a state concern.


The Case for Multifamily Housing [PLUL*]

Released by the Urban Land Institute in 2003, this book explains why multifamily housing is important, why it is needed and why it is preferred by many people today, and why multifamily housing choices are important to the economic vitality of the larger community.


Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Reexamining the Purpose and Effects of Housing Assistance [PLUL*]

This book by Sandra J. Newman and Ann B. Schnare, written in 1992, discusses the connection between decent housing and economic independence.


The State of the Nation’s Housing, 2000, 2001, and 2002 [PLUL*]

These are reports from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and have a number of graphs and tables that show how severe housing problems afflict very low-income households in both urban and rural areas.  Also gives a table of home prices by region and metropolitan area.


Housing Markets and Residential Mobility [PLUL*]

This book by G. Thomas Kingsley and Margery Austin Turner, written in 1993, has a chapter that discusses affordable rental housing in metropolitan neighborhoods.


Zoning, Rent Control, and Affordable Housing [PLL*]

This book, by William Tucker in 1991, has a great deal of information on United States Housing Policy and Low-Income Housing.  (Pace Law Library Call Number:  HD7293 .T774 1991)



The Crisis of Affordable Housing for Hudson Valley Working People, a report by the NY AFL-CIO.  [PDF]

This report details how much money Hudson Valley families are making and how much they are spending on housing.  It also explains what working populations are being 'housed out' of the Hudson Valley, like teachers, nurses and firefighters.



The Crisis of Affordable Housing for Long Island's Working People, a report by the NY AFL-CIO.  [PDF]

This report details how much money L.I. families are making and how much they are spending on housing.  It also explains what working populations are being 'housed out' of the L.I. region, like teachers, nurses and firefighters.



Presentation on Affordable Housing

Outline of a presentation given by Roger P. Akeley, AICP from the Dutchess County Department of Planning & Development and John C. Cappello, Esq. of Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP.  The outline defines affordable housing, gives an overview of N.Y. case law, and discusses County and Town Initiatives to Provide Median Income and Affordable Housing.



Workforce Housing: The New Economic Imperative?

Article by Carol A. Bell discusses the need for affordable or 'workforce' housing nationwide, the economic impact of not providing enough affordable housing and what communities are doing to create more affordable housing.



The Affordable Housing Crisis

Article from Planner's Web discussing the nationwide affordable housing crisis.



State-Sponsored Growth Management as a Remedy for Exclusionary Zoning [PLUL*]

This article was released in the Harvard Law Review in 1995.  Discusses need for affordable housing in the suburbs.  States that “opening up the suburbs to low-income housing is an essential element in a long-term strategy for revitalization of urban neighborhoods.”



A Comparative Analysis of New Jersey’s Mount Laurel Cases with the Berenson Cases in New York [PLUL*]

Written by John R. Nolon for the Pace Environmental Law Review in 1986, this article discusses whether municipal zoning unconstitutionally excludes affordable types of housing.  



Cities Revive, But Where Will Working Poor Live?  

By Neal Peirce; Nation's Cities Weekly, November 8, 1999, No. 45, Vol. 22; Pg. 9 ; ISSN: 0164-5935



Affordable Housing Important to Cities 

By Lance Davis; Nation's Cities Weekly, September 1, 2003, No. 35, Vol. 26; Pg. 1; ISSN: 0164-5935



Affordability Remains Greatest Housing Challenge

By Lance Davis; Nation's Cities Weekly, July 7, 2003, No. 27, Vol. 26; Pg. 5; ISSN: 0164-5935



Affordable Housing: How Effective Are Existing Federal Laws in Addressing the Housing Needs of Lower Income Families?

By Dan Nnamdi Mbulu, CPA; Copyright (c) 2000 American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, 2000, 8 Am. U.J. Gender Soc. Pol'y & L. 387



Symposium: Housing Out the Poor

By John J. Ammann; Copyright (c) 2000 Saint Louis University School of Law Saint Louis University Public Law Review, 2000, 19 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 309



Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University

The Joint Center for Housing Studies is Harvard University's center for information and research on housing in the United States. The Joint Center analyzes the dynamic relationships between housing markets and economic, demographic, and social trends, providing leaders in government, business, and the non-profit sector with the knowledge needed to develop effective policies and strategies



National Affordable Housing Management Association 

NAHMA's mission is to support legislative and regulatory policy that promotes the development and preservation of decent and safe affordable housing. NAHMA serves as a vital resource for technical education and information, fosters strategic relations between government and industry, and recognizes those who exemplify the best in affordable housing. 




KnowledgePlex is a resource for affordable housing and community development. It offers best practices, discussions, research and more for professionals working on affordable housing and community development.



Guide to Housing Assistance Programs & Resources - https://www.moneygeek.com/mortgage/resources/affordable-housing-and-assistance/ 



   *PLL = Resource is available from the Pace Law Library

*PLUL = Resource is available in the Pace Land Use Law Library


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Practical Resources on How to Create Affordable Housing


Meeting Housing Needs [PLUL*]

This book is available to purchase through the Pace University Land Use Law Center and is part of the Starting Ground Series.  Click here for a brief overview of the book.  If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here to access the order form.



Developing Affordable Housingand Managing Affordable Housing

This website offers two books for sale; Developing Affordable Housing and Managing Affordable Housing.



Housing Supply and Affordability