Through the Roof
“Through the Roof is a ray of light in dark times. Housing has always been at the center of economic and racial inequality in our nation, and it must be at the center of creating real opportunity in every community. The authors explain masterfully how a quiet crisis became a national epidemic of housing insecurity over the past half-century. Even more important, at a time of division and paralysis in our federal government, they show convincingly how cities, towns, and counties can come together to solve our housing challenges and build more just and inclusive communities.”
— Shaun Donovan, Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
This report shows what local governments can do to mitigate the rising cost of rental housing in the United States. Drawing on the authors’ experience building the National Community of Practice on Local Housing Policy, the report considers the root causes of high rent burdens, reviews evidence about the consequences, and lays out a framework that cities, towns, and counties can use to help provide all their citizens with safe, decent, affordable housing options.
About the Authors
Ingrid Gould Ellen is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a faculty director at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy.
Jeffrey Lubell is principal associate and director of Housing and Community Initiatives at Abt Associates.
Mark A. Willis is the senior policy fellow at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy.
“This report is a comprehensive, powerful look at the affordability crisis—how rent burdens hold families back from upward economic mobility and the actions that government can take to close this gap. An important resource at any time, Through the Roof is even more urgent as we face record unemployment and unprecedented housing instability across the country. Stable, affordable housing for all is a human right, and this report is a necessary guide for policy makers seeking to create this reality for their constituents.”
— Denise Scott, Executive Vice President for Programs, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
“Communities across the country are grappling with the challenge of how to meet the pressing need to build and preserve affordable housing. The COVID-19 crisis underscores the importance of decent, safe, healthy homes. Through the Roof offers critical insight into the housing crisis facing renters. It offers real world examples of housing solutions. The concepts in Through the Roof should encourage all of us to join this community of practice and put these ideas to work!”
— Linda Mandolini, President, Eden Housing
“The authors provide a thoughtful assessment of why housing affordability has become worse and they tackle the thorny question of what federal, state, and local governments can do to help. They marshal an impressive array of quantitative data and case studies in support of their conclusions, which are economically sound and politically pragmatic. This report will serve as an excellent resource and guide for policy makers.”
— Jenny Schuetz, Fellow, Brookings Institution