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One Size Fits None: Local Context and Planning for the Preservation of Affordable Housing

December 2018

Kathryn L. Howell, Elizabeth J Mueller, Barbara Brown Wilson


This article examines three cases of local efforts in preserving affordable housing in Chicago, Illinois, Washington, DC, and Austin, Texas. In Chicago, the preservation network focuses on small owners and providing them with resources such as education programs. The DC efforts focus on tenant’s rights through collaboration across sectors. Finally, Austin is still developing their preservation network and navigating an environment with limited policy support from local and state governments.

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Policy Implications

This article demonstrates the important role that local efforts play in realizing policy outcomes; local communities must have an understanding of their specific needs and tailor their policies towards these needs. Still, there were common successful policy trends over all three case studies: giving communities access to data sources; having accessible funding and legal tools to help with buying and renovating development sites; allowing residents to have a voice in their community; and, finally, taking an interdisciplinary focus to community development by bringing in other concerns such as energy efficiency and code enforcement.

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