2023 Journalists Forum
The Lincoln Institute’s 2023 Journalists Forum, held November 17–18 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, explored innovations in housing affordability. Access to affordable housing has become a central issue of our times, with overburdened renters, yawning gaps in ownership rates between minority and white households, and a demand for housing that far outstrips the supply. Journalists covering housing were invited to step back and consider the often-underreported fundamental elements driving the affordability crisis, especially as they relate to land use management and fiscal and financial systems. Over the course of two days, participants explored current policy interventions, innovative solutions, and emergent debates that go to the root causes of the current housing crisis. The Journalist Forum resources are available as an online library.
"2023 Journalists Forum: Innovations in Affordability" by Jon Gorey and Anthony Flint (Land Lines Magazine)
"Does Density Lead To Affordability?" by Josh Stephens (California Planning & Development Report)
"Editorial: Mayor is on the right track with plan to help legalize basement apartments" by Telisha Bryan (Crain's New York Business)
"Why Housing Vouchers Need a YIMBY Movement" by Diana Lind (The New Urban Order)
"Housing trend specifically for renters is booming nationwide. Now it's coming to the Bay Area" by J.K. Dineen (San Franciso Chronicle)
"Could this obscure tax idea reshape American housing?" by Rachel Cohen (Vox)
"Bryant Lu, Hana Vopravilová and 'The State of Housing Design 2023'" by Nic Monisse and Greg Scruggs (Monocle on Design)
"Rethinking the Green Revolution" by Andrew Tuck and Greg Scruggs (Monocle: The Urbanist)
Presentations and Session Recordings
Day One: Friday, November 17
Welcome and Opening
- George W. “Mac” McCarthy, CEO and president, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
- Monté Foster, retail market president New England, TD Bank
- Keynote: Arthur Jemison, director, Boston Planning & Development Agency
Setting the Stage with an Interactive Discussion: State of the Nation’s Housing
- Daniel McCue, Joint Center for Housing Studies
Interventions: Zoning Reform
As more states from California to Connecticut pursue statewide zoning reform and face backlash by local governments seeking to retain control over land use, it is important to explore: What are the challenges facing states that seek to implement statewide land use reform? What do we know about the effects of changing land use regulations on housing supply and housing prices? When can we realistically expect to observe the results of these policies on the ground?
- Jessie Grogan, associate director, Reduced Poverty and Spatial Inequality, Lincoln Institute
- Patrick Condon, University of British Columbia
- Jenny Schuetz, Brookings Institution
- David Garcia, Terner Center at UC Berkeley
- Journalist moderator: Diana Lind
- "The State of Local Zoning: Reforming a Century-Old Approach to Land Use"
- From the House to the Ground: Insights Into the Challenges of Implementing State Housing Policies
- "Are new housing policy reforms working? We need better research to find out."
- "How Can State Governments Influence Local Zoning to Support Healthier Housing Markets?"
- New Pathways to Encourage Housing Production: A Review of California’s Recent Housing Legislation
- Incentivizing Housing Production: State Laws from Across the Country to Encourage or Require Municipal Action
- "New Research Builds Evidence for Zoning Reform"
- "Opinion: Cities try every tool to fix the housing crisis except what works"
- "Mapping Minneapolis’ Post-2040 Plan Duplexes and Triplexes"
Interventions II: Tax Policy
Cities are considering the effects of their tax systems on housing affordability. In Detroit, a land value tax has been proposed to lower residential taxes and encourage development. A well-functioning property tax based on market value might play a similar role in other jurisdictions. The design of property tax relief programs and homestead exemptions also has important implications for affordability.
- Jay Rising, chief financial officer, City of Detroit
- Nick Allen, MIT
- Joan Youngman, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
- Ron Rakow, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
- Journalist moderator: Liam Dillon
- Split-Rate Property Taxation in Detroit
- Property Tax Relief for Homeowners
- "The Invisible Role Taxes Play in America’s Housing Shortage"
- 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study
- A Good Tax: Legal and Policy Issues for the Property Tax in the United States
Interventions III: Institutional Investors
Private sector actors are purchasing residential properties at significant rates, especially in cities with traditionally weak real estate markets. Affordable housing advocates seek to analyze who is buying up local properties, when, where, and over what period, to inform a series of real estate, capital, and other interventions. This session looks at attempts to manage institutional investors who are buying, flipping, or charging often-high rents for properties in legacy cities and elsewhere, using data available through new mapping tools; with special attention to the case study of Cincinnati, where bond financing was used to purchase nearly 200 fixer-uppers, outbidding outside investors.
- Aftab Pureval, Mayor of Cincinnati (on video)
- Robert J. McGrail, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
- Jeff Allenby, Center for Geospatial Solutions, “Who Owns America” initiative
- David Howard, CEO, National Rental Home Council
- Journalist moderator: Loren Berlin
- "Mayor's Desk: Housing and Hope in Cincinnati"
- "Who Owns America: The Geospatial Mapping Technology That Could Help Cities Beat Predatory Investors at Their Own Game"
- "A Bid for Affordability: Notes from an Ambitious Housing Experiment in Cincinnati"
- "Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing Is Disappearing"
- "Ensuring Safe and Affordable Housing Stock Starts with Understanding Who Owns Rental Units"
- "Geospatial tech can help cities get ahead of real estate speculators"
- "Meet the Latest Housing-Crisis Scapegoat"
Day Two: Saturday, November 18
Welcome and Opening
- Chris Herbert, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University
State of the Nation's Housing Design
- Dan D’Oca, Harvard University Graduate School of Design–Joint Center for Housing Studies
Innovations in Financing
After the Community Reinvestment Act and the financial crisis of 2008, a reset has been in the works for both individuals and neighborhoods to access capital, to help close the racial homeownership gap. Should homeownership be so actively encouraged? Will tweaks to the home financing system really have impact? What role can mortgage markets play in facilitating access to housing for households with lower incomes?
- Jim Gray, senior fellow, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Underserved Mortgage Markets Coalition and Innovations in Manufactured Homes Network (I’m HOME) program
- Chrystal Kornegay, MassHousing
- Majurial (MJ) Watkins, community mortgage sales manager, TD Bank
- Chris Herbert, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University
- Journalist moderator: Chris Arnold
- Duty to Serve: Early Lessons Learned in Underserved Housing Markets
- "President’s Message: Equity, Affordability, and the New Lending Landscape"
- "How a home mortgage 'lock in' impacts the entire housing market"
- "How Biden’s goal to boost Black homeownership could be undone by a new mortgage rule"
- Pathwways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing)
Proposals and Provocations: A Discussion with the Lincoln Institute
This session synthesizes the approaches the Lincoln Institute is currently taking to help address the housing affordability crisis in the United States. Lincoln Institute staff present key ideas of our work at the intersection of land and housing, and provoke a conversation by asking the audience: What will it take to cover these issues? How do we make them accessible to large and diverse audiences? What topics or angles might be missing in our work?
- Equity and Opportunity for Affordable Housing—Jessie Grogan and Semida Munteanu
- The Federal Government’s Role: Underserved Mortgage Markets Coalition, I’m HOME (manufactured homes)—Arica Young
- Capital Absorption as a Platform in Housing for Racial Equity and Health—Omar Carrillo Tinajero, director of partnerships and initiatives, Center for Community Investment
- Greening Without Displacement—Amy Cotter, director, Climate Strategies
- Moderator: David Luberoff, Joint Center for Housing Studies
Practicing the Craft
Traditional concluding roundtable of journalists talking about the challenges of covering housing; looking ahead to new frameworks and narratives, storytelling methods, and better use of data and graphics.
- Paige Carlson-Heim, TD Charitable Foundation
- Shelley Silva, TD Bank
- Anthony Flint, Lincoln Institute