Topic: Habitação

Mayor’s Desk

Rezoning and Revitalization in Minneapolis

By Anthony Flint, Junho 12, 2024

Jacob Frey is an unabashed transplant. While attending law school at Villanova, the Virginia native and professional runner came to Minneapolis to run the Twin Cities Marathon and, as he tells it, fell in love with the city. The day after graduating, he drove the 1,200 miles west to Minneapolis, his chosen home.

He started as an employment and civil rights attorney, became a community organizer, served on the City Council, and was elected mayor in 2017, promptly faced with COVID and the police murder of George Floyd in 2020. He was re-elected in 2021 and continued to address police and race relations, as well as the connections among racial equity, affordability, and zoning.

Senior Fellow Anthony Flint interviewed Frey while visiting Minneapolis for the American Planning Association National Planning Conference. Frey later joined the Lincoln Institute and two other mayors from legacy cities—Aftab Pureval of Cincinnati and Paige Cognetti of Scranton—for a standing-room-only APA panel discussion about what’s working in legacy cities.

The interview, which has been edited for length, can be heard in full on the Land Matters podcast.

Anthony Flint: Minneapolis has been a pioneer in zoning reform and banning single-family-only zoning. How is it going? Can you talk a little bit about whether increasing supply is a good path to affordability?

Jacob Frey: There are two critical paths that you need to take simultaneously to achieve affordability. The first is subsidy. It’s bridging the gap between the market rate and the affordable rate, making sure that people who are experiencing homelessness have that next rung on the ladder to pull themselves out. That side of the equation can’t be achieved simply through supply; it requires some government intervention.

About 10 years ago when I first took office as a city council member, I said very clearly that we were going to go to war on surface parking lots. We were going to dramatically add supply and density, and we did. We coupled that with a comprehensive plan which, as you mentioned, got rid of single-family exclusive zoning, allowing duplexes and triplexes in residential neighborhoods, and then also adding density and height along commercial corridors.

All those things have allowed Minneapolis to keep rents down more than just about any other major city in the country. Other cities were seeing double-digit increases, where we were keeping our rent increases to 1 percent and 2 percent. That’s with a whole lot of new people moving in. We’ve dramatically increased supply and it’s helped a whole lot.

For years, we were operating under these prescriptive zoning ordinances that explicitly said, we’re going to keep the Blacks and the Jews in one portion of the city. When that became illegal to do explicitly, we then started to do the same stuff implicitly through the zoning code, making it so that unless you could own a huge home on a huge parcel, you couldn’t live in huge swaths of the city. The tails of those decisions continued to the present. We wanted to push back on that. We’re going for a diversity of housing options in every neighborhood, and therefore a diversity of people in every neighborhood. In the last three years, we’ve built over 1,000 housing units in multifamily buildings on parcels that previously would only allow a single-family home.

We’ve seen a whole lot of progress . . . and then we got sued. We’re going to ultimately win, whether through legislation or through the litigation itself. Everybody should have that opportunity to live in a great city, and we want to create that opportunity for everyone.

AF: For people outside of Minneapolis, who did you get sued by, and what was the rationale?

JF: We got sued by a group of people who said we were doing something that would harm the environment, and I adamantly disagree. One of the best ways to improve the environment, to reduce your individual carbon output, is by living in a great city. Rather than commuting 45 minutes into work from your own single-family home and picket fence out in the suburbs or exurbs, you can walk to the grocery store and take your bicycle to work. If you do take a car, well, it’s fewer miles traveled anyway. The suit is largely saying that we should have conducted an environmental review on this comprehensive plan and the total potential build-out. Let’s be real here. We can’t assume that every single building downtown is going to be 100 stories tall and every single-family home is going to be a triplex, because that is never going to happen. The way they were asking us to calculate this buildout is not operating in reality.

AF: Turning now to transit and mobility, how are you achieving your vision for sustainable mobility in a historically car-dependent metropolis?

JF: Our city was built out at a time when people were largely dependent on cars. To the extent that it was built out prior to that time period, the streets and the grids were shifted to make them car-centric. Of course, we recognize that cars are a way people get around, but we want to add options so people can safely and comfortably take their bike to work, we want to make it so that pedestrians feel comfortable and in fact are prioritized, we want to add public transportation, not just as an option that’s available occasionally, but as a convenient one for getting from point A to point B.

We are adding bus rapid transit wherever we can. We’ve seen a dramatic uptick in the number of BRT lines, and over the last 15 years, Minneapolis has grown by about 50,000 people, yet the total vehicle miles traveled and gas emissions have gone down.

We recognize that people are going to take cars and we’re going to try to make those cars as sustainable as possible through electric vehicle charging stations. Right now we’re adding bus-specific transit lanes as well so that you can take the bus and whip by traffic that you would otherwise be sitting in.

Old and new approaches to architecture in the Twin Cities. Credit: Anthony Flint.


AF: What is your assessment of land-based financing to fund transit, redevelopment, affordable housing, and parks? The idea is that government action and investments create value in private land and development. Isn’t it possible to harness some portion of that increase in value and plow it back into the community? Are you a value capture fan?

JF: I think it’s not smart to be pro-value capture, pro-TIF, or anti–value capture, anti-TIF. It is a very important tool and needs to be balanced.

There is a way to enhance a city by using tools such as value capture and TIF to achieve wonderful structures and building and transportation options that would not happen but for government intervention. We’ve been using it in a number of different ways, including one of the most popular policy moves I’d say we’ve done in the last few years, which is to knock down this old Kmart. To take you back: 40 or 50 years [ago] there was a policy decision made to block off Nicollet Avenue and put a big Kmart in a huge parking lot in the middle of it.

It would be somewhat unfair of me to question decisions that were made at that time, because I’m sure 40 years from now, there are decisions I will have made that turn out to be not so smart, but this is one of the worst, in my opinion, urban planning decisions that was made in our city. We found ways to get land control over that former Kmart. We are knocking the building down. We’re opening up the street and breathing new life into this important artery and making sure everything is there, from a park to affordable housing to commercial to market rate. It allows the flow of entrepreneurship and new business growth on that corridor to expand south and north. A big part of what we’re using to achieve this large-scale goal is value capture.

It is a tool that should be used, but it’s also a tool that shouldn’t be used every single time there’s a new building that goes up or a new opportunity to be had. It’s got to be a balance.

AF: A task force is looking at changes to the Metropolitan Council, but in what ways is this pioneering arrangement working? Can or should it be replicable, this idea of regional governance?

JF: You can’t think about any city as living in a vacuum. Mayor Carter [of St. Paul] and I joke that it’s not like we just protect the water on our side of the Mississippi River. We share. Likewise, we share an economy that doesn’t end where the street ends and the boundary starts.

I’ve got a responsibility to the city of Minneapolis, and it helps to have a governing body that has a regional focus. We’ve got a Metropolitan Council appointed largely by the governor that helps us put up light rail that goes through a number of different municipalities. It helps us design bus-rapid transit, helps pay for Metropolitan Transit police. To have that regional focus is not just important; it’s crucial to furthering a regional mindset and goal.

AF: What’s your view on skyways? Current urban planning practices suggest a focus on the street and activity at the street level. Is there a conflict there? Tell us a little bit about the urban design part of your job.

JF: If you’ve got 100,000, 200,000 people coming downtown, and you’ve got two levels of activity, you’re splitting whatever number it is between those two levels.Do I like the splitting of activity? Of course I don’t. Nobody does. I’d rather have a concentration of all that bustle and excitement and vibrancy all on one level. But I use the skyways. During the months where it’s cold, I go in and I grab a sandwich and I don’t feel guilty about it. In fact, I’m really pumped to see the small local business owners that are operating in it.

Skyways have been hit particularly hard in the last few years because of a decrease in the number of workers that come downtown on an annual basis. I will not take any more criticism about the lack of vibrancy downtown or somebody’s favorite sandwich shop closing, from the person that’s sitting on their couch at home in the suburbs. If you care, then you should be supporting that sandwich shop.

If you want to see vibrance and want to see more foot traffic, your feet should be adding to that traffic. We are increasing the numbers pretty dramatically right now. People are definitely coming back, but it’s not happening all in one big burst.

AF: It’s become a bit of a cliche, but there really is no substitute for being in the office.

JF: It’s the unplanned interactions that ultimately help. I’m largely in Minneapolis because of a coincidence. You meet somebody, you get a job, you get an interview, you find a great city that you fall in love with. These things only happen because you were there to have it happen to you.


Anthony Flint is a senior fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, host of the Land Matters podcast, contributing editor of Land Lines, and author of Mayor’s Desk: 20 Conversations with Local Leaders Solving Global Problems.

Lead image: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. Credit: Office of Mayor Frey.

Anacláudia Rossbach sitting at a desk in front of a computer.

Lincoln Institute’s Director of Latin America and the Caribbean Anacláudia Rossbach Named Executive Director of UN-Habitat 

By Kristina McGeehan, Junho 11, 2024

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy today announced its director of Latin America and the Caribbean, Anacláudia Rossbach, has been elected by the United Nations General Assembly as executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).  

Anacláudia Rossbach is an economist with more than 20 years of experience working on housing issues including informal settlements, land, and urban policy. In her current role, she has bolstered the Latin America and Caribbean program through efforts such as establishing partnerships with educational institutions, creating a new strategic alliance with the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Ecuador, launching a new Community of Practice (CoP) model of technical assistance in Paraguay, and inaugurating the Lincoln Prize for Journalism on Urban Policy, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change.  

“I am deeply honored by this appointment and grateful for the trust placed in me by the UN member states and the UN secretary-general—I am eager to bring my experience to the global stage,” said Anacláudia Rossbach. “In these two years working for the Lincoln Institute, I significantly expanded my knowledge about land policies—ratifying my previous recognition of the centrality of land in overcoming the great challenges we face as humanity. I appreciate the opportunity I had to be ‘at home’ at Lincoln, exchanging knowledge and ideas with my colleagues and the robust network of professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean.” 

Prior to joining the Lincoln Institute, Rossbach was the regional manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at Cities Alliance. In that role, she promoted the transfer and exchange of knowledge and provided advisory services on housing and urban policies in the Global South. She was responsible for establishing the Urban Housing Practitioners Hub (UHPH), a network of experts, practitioners, and researchers working in urban development and housing. 

Previously, she worked as a senior housing specialist for the World Bank in Brazil and internationally. In that role, she served as a high-level consultant and provided technical assistance to develop and implement Brazilian housing and slum-upgrading policies, including the Growth Acceleration Program for Favelas and the housing subsidies program Minha Casa, Minha Vida (“My House, My Life”).  

Throughout her career, Rossbach has also worked on projects including designing one of the world’s most significant municipal-level slum-upgrade programs in São Paulo, Brazil, designing institutional and operational strategies to expand access to adequate housing in Peru with the Inter-American Development Bank, and leading a global program on informality as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She holds a bachelor of science in economics and a master of science in political economy from Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Brazil. 

“Anacláudia’s impact at the Lincoln Institute over the past two years is palpable, and can be evidenced through advances in research, partnerships, and technical assistance that we have been able to bring to Latin America and the Caribbean focusing on key issues such as fiscal systems, climate change, spatial equity, and land conservation,” said George W. McCarthy, president and CEO of the Lincoln Institute. “We will miss her deeply, but are excited to support her efforts to build inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities through this new role with UN-Habitat.” 

Rossbach succeeds Maimunah Mohd Sharif of Malaysia, executive director of UN-Habitat from January 2018 to January 2024. She will serve a four-year term, and her appointment date will be announced soon. 

Image: Courtesy of Anacláudia Rossbach

Nuevas investigaciones sobre políticas de suelo y desarrollo urbano en América Latina

Por Luis Felipe Quintanilla, Junho 11, 2024

En el marco de la reciente convocatoria de investigación sobre políticas de suelo y desarrollo urbano en América Latina, el Instituto Lincoln de Políticas de Suelo se complace en anunciar los proyectos seleccionados para recibir apoyo financiero. Estas propuestas se destacan por su potencial de generar nuevos conocimientos sobre cómo las políticas de suelo pueden contribuir a la superación de desafíos sistémicos para el desarrollo sostenible en la región, tales como la asequibilidad de la vivienda, la equidad socioespacial, el mejoramiento integral de barrios informales, la autonomía fiscal de los municipios y la adaptación al cambio climático.

Adicionalmente, los proyectos seleccionados resaltan por su alta capacidad de incidir en debates de política pública vigentes en América Latina en temáticas de interés para el Instituto, incluyendo lecciones en la implementación de instrumentos de financiación en base al valor del suelo, políticas para reducir déficits cualitativos y cuantitativos de vivienda, y condiciones propicias para la incorporación de soluciones basadas en la naturaleza para la acción climática.

A continuación, se mencionan los proyectos y equipos de trabajo que reciben una comisión del Instituto Lincoln y que resultarán en informes científicos a presentarse en abril de 2025:

  • María Mercedes Di Virgilio, Felipe Gonzalez, María Vitoria Boix, Nicolás Ferme y María Victoria Marco, todos integrantes del Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC), realizarán una medición de niveles de vivienda vacante y recomendaciones de políticas públicas en las ciudades de Buenos Aires, Córdoba y Rosario, en Argentina.
  • Ernesto Lopez-Morales, Luis Inostroza, Lien Rodríguez, Nicolás Herrera y Vicente Mosso investigarán aumentos de valor de suelo generados por proyectos de infraestructura azul-verde y la provisión de servicios ecosistémicos en la región de Patagonia, Chile.
  • Aurora Echavarria y Paavo Monkkonen generarán una base de datos de tasas del impuesto predial aplicadas en más de 200 municipios de México, para evaluarlas contra niveles de progresividad y de cumplimiento en pagos, así como su relación con costos fiscales por exenciones y frecuencia de estimaciones de la base gravable.
  • Ciro Biderman y Luis Antonio Fantozzi Alvarez evaluarán variaciones en cobros de derechos de edificabilidad y sus impactos en valores de suelo y edificios en São Paulo, Brasil.
  • Pedro Abramo, Adriana Hurtado, Juan Cabrera, Denisse Brikman, María Mercedes Di Virgilio y Julia Queiroz realizarán un estudio comparativo de procesos de densificación en áreas de origen informal en cinco países—Bolivia, Perú, Colombia, Argentina y Brasil—con el objetivo de identificar modelos de política pública para gestionar los procesos actuales de crecimiento vertical informal.
  • Daniel Kozak, Demián Rotbart, Hayley Henderson, Mariana Giusti, Rodolfo Aradas y Esteban Otto Thomasz analizarán el costo-beneficio de un sistema urbano de drenaje sostenible, incluyendo su potencial como solución basada en la naturaleza y mecanismo de recuperación de plusvalías, en el municipio de General San Martín, Argentina.
  • Oscar Eduardo Pérez Moreno, Catalina Hinestroza Gallego, Jean Carlo Figueroa Santamaría y Susana Aguilar Cuartas analizarán los marcos jurídicos e institucionales de instrumentos de recuperación de plusvalías para la financiación de acciones de resiliencia climática, con enfoque en el proyecto “Paisajes de Agua” del municipio Rionegro, Colombia.
  • Ivo Gasic, Néstor Garza y Clemente Larraín realizarán una estimación de la tasa de variación general del precio del suelo de Santiago de Chile, con el objetivo de ser utilizada en investigaciones sobre estimaciones de plusvalías que genera la inversión pública en esta ciudad.
  • Fernando Mello Franco, Alexandre Fontenelle-Weber, Giselle Mendonça Abreu, Joyce Reis Ferreira da Silva, Rafael Chasles y Bárbara Frutuoso explorarán la función socioambiental de azoteas en São Paulo, Brasil, generando una tipología en base a morfologías y usos.
  • Beatriz Toribio, Gastón Gertner, y Guadalupe Dorna, compararán los efectos de obras para control de inundaciones en valores de propiedades en zonas de alto riesgo en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Para conocer más acerca de esta y otras iniciativas de investigación del Instituto Lincoln en la región, visite nuestra página principal de oportunidades para investigaciones (en inglés) y nuestro repositorio de recursos relacionados con políticas de suelo en América Latina.


Luis Felipe Quintanilla es analista de políticas para el Instituto Lincoln de Políticas de Suelo.

Lead image: Casas en Buenos Aires, Argentina. Credit: Gustavo Enrique Cortez via iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Oportunidades de bolsas

Premio Lincoln al periodismo sobre políticas urbanas, desarrollo sostenible y cambio climático 2024

Submission Deadline: August 9, 2024 at 11:59 PM

El Lincoln Institute of Land Policy convoca a periodistas de toda América Latina a participar del concurso “Premio Lincoln al periodismo sobre políticas urbanas, desarrollo sostenible y cambio climático”, dirigido a estimular trabajos periodísticos de investigación y divulgación que cubran temas relacionados con políticas de suelo y desarrollo urbano sostenible. El premio está dedicado a la memoria de Tim Lopes, periodista brasileño asesinado mientras hacía investigación para un reportaje sobre las favelas de Rio de Janeiro.  

Convocamos a periodistas de toda América Latina a participar de este concurso. Recibimos postulaciones para el premio hasta el 9 de agosto de 2024. Para ver detalles sobre la convocatoria vea el botón “Guía/Guidelines” o el archivo a continuación titulado “Guía/Guidelines“. 


Submission Deadline
August 9, 2024 at 11:59 PM
Related Links


Mitigação Climática, Habitação, Planejamento, Pobreza, Água


Public Participation Opportunity: I’m HOME Manufactured Housing Replacement Program

Junho 20, 2024 | 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (EDT, UTC-4)

Washington, DC United States

Offered in inglês

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, convenor of the I’m HOME Network, has prepared an application for funding in response to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) Competition. The PRICE funding is intended to preserve and revitalize manufactured housing and eligible manufactured home communities. 

The I’m HOME Replacement Project application proposes to use the PRICE funds to support sustainable homeownership and wealth creation for low-income and very low-income households that own substandard mobile or manufactured homes and face multiple barriers to home replacement. I’m HOME seeks to gather comments from the public and interested parties on the draft application. In compliance with the NOFO requirements, the Lincoln Institute will hold a public hearing at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 20. To participate, please join no later than 2:30 p.m. EDT. 

Interested parties may join by Zoom using the link or phone numbers below, or in person at the office of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 1200 G St NW, Suite 230, Washington, DC. Those planning to attend in person must RSVP online or email no later than 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 18 

In addition, I’m HOME’s draft application will be available for public comment from Thursday, June 13, through Friday, June 28. Requests for copies and written comments should be sent to All comments must be received by Friday, June 28 at 5 p.m. EDT.  

For those needing accommodation to review the draft application or participate in the public hearing, such as translation or interpretation services, please reach out to or call our toll-free number at (800) 526-3873 no later than 12 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 18.

Para quienes necesiten adaptaciones o arreglos especiales para revisar el borrador del formulario de aplicación, tales como servicios de traducción o interpretación, favor de contactarnos mediante el correo electrónico o llamar nuestro teléfono gratuito 1.800.526.3873 antes del martes 18 de junio a las 12:00 hrs. de mediodía ET (zona horaria del este de EE. UU.).

Zoom Details

Meeting ID: 812 7818 9504
Passcode: 152199

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Junho 20, 2024
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (EDT, UTC-4)
Registration Period
Maio 30, 2024 - Junho 18, 2024
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
1200 G St NW
Suite 230
Washington, DC United States
Registration Fee


Registration ends on June 18, 2024 5:00 PM.




Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’m HOME) Annual Conference 2024

Setembro 24, 2024 - Setembro 25, 2024

Scottsdale, AZ United States

Offered in inglês

The I’m HOME Annual Conference will be held September 24 to 25 in Phoenix, Arizona. After the success of the 2023 conference, the I’m HOME Network is excited to gather again and highlight policy and technical advancements in the manufactured housing industry. The early bird registration is from May 21, 2024 to June 30, 2024. See the Registration Fees section below for details. View a preliminary conference agenda.

This year’s annual conference will center around the theme of resilience. Housing resilience encompasses home quality, community infrastructure, finance, policy, and people. More climate-resilient housing is important because in addition to the benefits of disaster impact mitigation and utility cost savings, resilient housing promotes tenure security, financial health, and long-term affordability. When built well, sited properly, and maintained, manufactured housing can be climate resilient and energy efficient. However, policy issues present obstacles to broader adoption. The annual conference agenda will dig into how to overcome some of these obstacles and highlight how manufactured housing and homeowners embody resilience.

The I’m HOME Network is committed to uplifting manufactured housing as a solution to the United States’ housing issues, and the annual conference will bring together manufactured housing stakeholders including researchers, advocates, policymakers, for-profit and non-profit industry experts, and homeowners to discuss this often-overlooked housing type.

Please reach out to with any questions.

There will be no virtual option for this conference.

Registration Fees

Homeowner or Manufactured Housing Resident
Attendees who currently reside in a manufactured home within a manufactured home community, resident-owned community, or fee-simple land. There is no fee for this group. 

Attendees who are currently enrolled in an accredited academic institution.

Early Bird Fee: $25
Regular Fee: $50

Government Affairs & For-Profit Industry Representatives
Attendees who are affiliated with private companies or lobbying firms.

Early Bird Fee: $300
Regular Fee: $350

Attendees who do not fall into any of the other listed categories.

Early Bird Fee: $50
Regular Fee: $100


Setembro 24, 2024 - Setembro 25, 2024
Registration Period
Maio 21, 2024 - Agosto 23, 2024
Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort
5001 N Scottsdale Rd
Scottsdale, AZ United States


Registration ends on August 23, 2024 11:59 PM.


habitações pré-fabricadas, Zonificação

A Conversation with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey

May 14, 2024

By Anthony Flint, May 14, 2024


Consider Minnesota, a place that has pioneered many things: Scotch tape, the first toaster, the Mall of America. Add to that one more: taking the lead in zoning reform for more affordable housing.

Minneapolis was the first city in the country to abolish single-family-only zoning, which means a duplex or a triplex or any kind of greater density is allowed now on residential parcels. The idea is to increase supply with more affordable varieties of housing, rather than just the single-family home, which of course tends to be more expensive.

Dozens of cities across the country followed suit, in a quest for more density and multifamily housing in places where the single-family home has been dominant.

Is it working? For this episode of the Land Matters podcast, we sat down with the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, to talk about that and more, including bike and bus lanes, regional governance, value capture for urban infill redevelopment, return to work, and the city’s infamous skyways system.

The City of Lakes was the site of the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference this year, and a delegation from the Lincoln Institute was there.

Frey is an unabashed transplant. He grew up in northern Virginia and went to the College of William and Mary on a track scholarship, and after graduating with a degree in government, he started running professionally while attending law school at Villanova in Philadelphia. That’s when he came to Minneapolis to run the Twin Cities Marathon and, as he tells it, fell in love with the city. The day after graduating, he drove the 1,200 miles west to Minneapolis, his chosen home.

He started as an employment and civil rights attorney, became an active community organizer, served on the City Council and was elected mayor in 2017. He saw the single-family-only zoning ban through in 2019, then was promptly faced with COVID and the police murder of George Floyd in 2020. He was reelected in 2021 and has continued to address police and race relations, and indeed race and equity became a bigger part of the story of the lack of affordable housing, as he talked about how exclusive zoning has driven segregation.

“For years, we were operating under these fairly prescriptive zoning ordinances, that explicitly said, we’re going to keep the Blacks and the Jews over in one portion of the city,” Frey said. “During the Civil Rights Act, that became illegal to do explicitly. We then started to do the same stuff implicitly through the zoning code, making it so that unless you could own a huge home on a huge parcel, you couldn’t live in huge swaths of the city. We wanted to push back on that.”

At APA, Jacob Fry joined two other “Mayor’s Desk” interviewees—Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval and Paige Cognetti, mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania—for a standing-room-only panel discussion of what’s working and what’s not in legacy cities trying to make a comeback from population loss and disinvestment.

A lightly edited version of this interview will be available online and ultimately in print in Land Lines magazine as the latest installment of Mayor’s Desk, the series of Q&As with mayors from around the world—now also available as a book compilation, Mayor’s Desk: 20 Conversations with Local Leaders Solving Global Problems.



Anthony Flint is a senior fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, host of the Land Matters podcast, and a contributing editor of Land Lines.

Lead image: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaks with members of the press. Credit: Office of Mayor Frey.

Further Reading

House passes legislation to halt 2040 Plan lawsuit (Minneapolis Reformer)

Zoning Reform Is Working in Minneapolis (Planetizen)

Minneapolis Land Use Reforms Offer a Blueprint for Housing Affordability (Pew Charitable Trusts)

Influential Minneapolis Housing Shift Links Affordability, Equity (Land Lines)

Minneapolis’ Lake Street Kmart is gone. Here’s what could come next (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Opinion: Direct elections the best way for the Metropolitan Council to live up to its nation-leading potential (Minneapolis Post)

The Twin Cities Skyways Face an Uncertain Future (Governing)

Mensaje del presidente

Revealing Who Owns America

George W. McCarthy, Abril 5, 2024

In 1903, Elizabeth Magie, an East Coast office worker, introduced a game designed to illustrate the economic consequences of monopolizing land ownership. An avid follower of Henry George, Magie wanted more people to understand how unregulated rents enriched property owners at the expense of tenants. The Landlord’s Game was played in two rounds: the first involved buying, selling, and renting property, with the goal of making money; in the second round, players who landed on a property paid into a public treasury instead of paying the owner, showing how a land tax could undo the economic and social damage caused by unregulated land ownership.

Magie’s game was a forerunner of contemporary teaching games designed to reveal the consequences, either intended or unintended, of complex systems. For our purposes at the Lincoln Institute, it illustrates the use of land policy as a potential remedy to social and economic challenges. But it also inspired, and was ultimately usurped by, a popular game with a very different message.

The game of Monopoly is iconic. It is also ironic. The original Landlord’s Game was designed to offer solutions to the intrinsic unfairness of consolidated property ownership; Monopoly is a celebration of ruthlessness and greed that promotes unbridled large-scale land ownership. The popularity of Monopoly, now the world’s best-selling board game, helped normalize the idea that unregulated private property was sacrosanct.

More than a century after the invention of The Landlord’s Game, we still struggle to navigate the space between our cultural attachment to unfettered individual dominion over private property and our need to manage land to meet collective needs. A big part of the challenge is that property ownership in the US is still as opaque and almost as unregulated as it was in 1903. How can we regulate something we know so little about?

Property ownership is a matter of public record in the US, but it cannot be determined from any single public source. Our land ownership data is inaccessible, fragmented, and, in many cases, outdated or incomplete. To identify all the US property owned by a single individual or corporation with any certainty, for example, one would need to consult paper records held in 3,142 county offices across the country. Although many counties have digitized property records, the records that do exist are rife with errors and infrequently updated. Some private data providers have tried to compile property records nationally into machine-readable form, but these datasets are expensive, incomplete, and prone to repeat the errors found in the digitized county records. They are also typically tailored for individual use cases, like examining the activity of a particular entity or studying the dynamics of a local market.

It is also very difficult to determine actual property owners from the owners of record. This is because corporate ownership of property can be obscured by the corporate structure itself. The owner of record might be a division of a larger holding company, a managing partner of a national real estate investment trust, or simply a person or corporation doing business under a different name.

To make matters worse, land regulations are similarly opaque and complex. There are more than 30,000 zoning codes in use in the US, dictating how each parcel of land can be developed, and 89,000 local governments across the country that influence how land can be used and taxed. These local governments have overlapping jurisdictions, so different rules can apply to different properties on the same street.

Since joining the Lincoln Institute in 2014, I have wanted to be able to answer simple questions about the state of the nation’s land. For instance, how much prime farmland has been lost to urban sprawl since we began building the interstate highway system? To what extent are natural resources like forests owned and controlled by foreign investors? How many units could be added to the national housing stock if we rezoned and redeveloped abandoned strip malls? As it turns out, finding answers to questions like these was more complicated than I had anticipated. But now, a decade later, we’re making some headway.

In 2023, the Center for Geospatial Solutions at the Lincoln Institute (CGS) launched Who Owns America℠ (WHOA), a nationwide effort to uncover property ownership patterns with unprecedented ease, precision, and nuance. As a first step, this ambitious data mapping endeavor used best-in-class parcel-level data—optimized for analysis at an aggregate level—to respond to specific questions about the ownership of single-family housing in US cities. Starting with Baltimore, we were able to report block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and across the city the extent to which institutional investors were snatching up single-family homes and converting them from owner-occupied properties to rentals—an increasingly common trend across the country.

Now, dozens of entities—from municipal agencies to national affordable housing organizations—have asked CGS to help them better understand the changing reality of their local housing stock. By equipping organizations like the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America and the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development with precise and enhanced maps of property ownership, CGS is helping to inform strategies they can use to defend their housing stock—and to track their progress. (Our work was the subject of a recent article in Context, a Thomson Reuters media platform about climate change, technology, and inclusive economies.)

Without an available stock of starter homes, homeownership might disappear as a pathway to “the American dream.” Similarly, our chances of closing racial and ethnic wealth gaps will be greatly diminished if we cannot close racial and ethnic homeownership gaps (which are, incidentally, higher than they were when we passed the Civil Rights and the Fair Housing Acts in the 1960s).

The Center for Geospatial Solutions is working with stakeholders in places including Salt Lake County, Utah, to develop a more comprehensive understanding of institutional property ownership across the country. Credit: Rich Legg/E+ via Getty Images.


But ownership of the nation’s housing stock is only the tip of a very large iceberg of questions that this data-based approach can help answer. The unique “data fusion” expertise of CGS reflects the interconnected nature of our most pressing challenges. By layering multiple environmental and social datasets with land ownership data, their work stands to enrich our collective understanding of the obstacles we face—and how to surmount them.

For example, by weaving in legal-entity information, which is typically dispersed across hundreds of business registers, we can figure out where corporate investors are the most active—in land or housing. We can better understand the impact of large-scale institutional investors compared to that of small, family-owned LLC holdings. We can determine which corporate investors target their housing purchases in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color; which companies are finding loopholes in development regulations intended to protect water supplies in the parched Southwest; and which out-of-state investors are snapping up local timberlands.

Last month, we got two requests in the same week from practitioners hoping to figure out how much land is owned and controlled by places of worship in their respective states. Drawing inspiration from California’s recently passed SB4, which allows religious organizations and nonprofit colleges to build affordable housing on their property, our partners wanted to better understand the potential of such legislation to engage relatively new players and resources in solving the housing crisis. CGS responded by providing a preliminary analysis estimating the total count of parcels owned by religious organizations, as well as the average and total acreage breakdown by state and county, and is now developing an interactive platform that will make it possible to refine this dataset and investigate potential redevelopment sites.

We’re now contemplating how Who Owns America℠ can help answer many other questions like these—including questions no one has thought to ask yet. The possibilities are endless and exciting.

Understanding property ownership in America involves navigating a complex web of legal, economic, cultural, and historical factors. Balancing private property rights, public interest, and sustainable land use remains an ongoing challenge—in the face of the climate crisis, it might be the biggest challenge of our lifetimes—and the tension between private ownership, government control, and public interest will continue to shape land policies and regulations. But for the first time, it seems possible that better informed and more transparent policies, buttressed by accurate, accessible data, will help to resolve this tension.

George W. McCarthy is president and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Image: Segment of a data map produced by the Center for Geospatial Solutions to identify different types of property ownership in Baltimore. Credit: Center for Geospatial Solutions.

Grabações de Wébinars e Eventos

Scenario Planning for Housing Affordability: Peer Exchange with evolveEA

Junho 4, 2024 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. (EDT, UTC-4)

Offered in inglês

Watch the Recording

This peer exchange will focus on evolveEA’s work on scenario planning and housing affordability for the Consortium’s 2023 RFP cycle. We’ll be discussing their process as well as their experience using scenario planning to create future-based plans in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

This event is eligible for 1 CM credit from AICP.

All times are in Eastern Time.


Junho 4, 2024
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. (EDT, UTC-4)
Registration Period
Abril 18, 2024 - Junho 4, 2024


Habitação, Planejamento, Planejamento de Cenários