Ingrid Gould Ellen stands on city street

Land Matters Podcast

Season 2, Episode 2: Coauthor of Through the Roof on How Housing Can Be More Affordable
By Anthony Flint, February 26, 2021


Early on in Through the Roof: What Communities Can Do About the High Cost of Rental Housing in America, the report’s authors describe the deep roots of the affordability crisis with what they say is “cruel math”: between 1960 and 2016, median income rose by about 11 percent, while median rents rose by 80 percent.

The pandemic has revealed just how precarious life has become for many of the 35 percent of households in rental housing, says one of the authors, NYU professor Ingrid Gould Ellen, in the latest episode of the Land Matters podcast.

“The decline in affordability over these decades has meant it’s very difficult for these renting households to put aside any savings for a rainy day, much less a global pandemic,” says Ellen, who coauthored the Lincoln Institute’s latest Policy Focus Report with Jeffrey Lubell and Mark Willis. “Even small shocks can put households over the edge.”

Restrictive land use regulations, local opposition to new housing, and a construction industry that’s incentivized to focus on higher-end housing have all contributed to a short supply of more affordable homes. Local governments should establish comprehensive plans, she says, that could aid progress through inclusionary housing, density bonuses, community land trusts, and accessory dwelling units. Some communities have put an end to single family-only zoning, so that multifamily housing can be built in more neighborhoods.

The conversation is the latest in a series devoted to the issues and innovations that are prominent in the work of the Lincoln Institute, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Last month the topic was confronting climate change, and this episode is based on another Lincoln Institute goal, reduced poverty and spatial inequality.

You can listen to the show and subscribe to Land Matters on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.




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

Photograph Credit: New York University.



Further reading:

Through the Roof: What Communities Can Do About the High Cost of Rental Housing in America

Inclusionary Housing: Creating and Maintaining Equitable Communities 

Tracking Growth and Evaluating Performance of Shared Equity Homeownership Programs During Housing Market Fluctuations