Mobile homes in a manufactured home park. Front yard.

Trend Snapshot

As most decisions on the location and type of housing is determined at the local-level, community members have a strong influence on these decisions. This can lead to objections on specific projects or even legislative proposals on zoning changes that could allow for different types and density of housing within a particular community. These objections have stymied housing production for decades, and continue to interfere with potential solutions, preventing new housing options from being constructed and contributing to housing scarcity. 


  • Localities can be more responsive to the needs of the broader community.
    • Local oversight provides a greater voice for all residents, more engagement, and allows for different, customized solutions that meet the varying needs of different community members.
  • The degree to which a locality has a growing older population motivates local leaders to prioritize solutions that best serve the 50+.
  • States and localities can inspire other localities through successful initiatives, creating blueprints for others to emulate.
  • Competitions, awards and ratings in tools such as the AARP Livability Index provide inspiration.
A multi-ethnic, multi generational group openly discusses the racial issues dividing their community.


  • Small numbers of influential, powerful voices can sway debate and decision-making.
    • Townhall meetings can sometimes suffer from low participation from a range of community members allowing for interested and motivated community stakeholders who do attend meetings to control the debate and limit the voice of residents who are not adequately represented.
  • It is difficult to advocate for the less powerful and to deliver a consistent message and policy position across jurisdictions with varying priorities.
    • Housing policies based on local politics rather than people’s needs are not the best solutions to address diverse needs.
  • Housing is a regional issue that can span city, county, or state lines, but it is controlled by jurisdictions, which can result in siloed decisions that do not fully address regional housing issues.
    • In fact, it can lead to competition and a desire to shift costs or responsibilities (e.g., for affordable housing) to other localities– particularly where differentials in resources, leadership, and finances exist.

What Can Be Done?

Advocates can work to educate and alleviate fears of community members and local legislators regarding changes to zoning codes and subsequent housing production/ neighborhood change. 

State and county government can implement policies to incentivize or mandate certain legislative actions (e.g., statewide ADU policy). 

State and local government can seek input from a representative sample of the community through increased outreach and more accommodating meeting times to broaden participation in the decision-making process. 

Explore Related Resources

AARP Livability Index

Goals:  Change Perspectives | Improve Policy

Race, Class and Housing in an Aging Society (Video)

Goals:  Improve Policy | Preserve Affordability

Missing Middle Housing

Goals:  Expand Options | Improve Policy