Beam stick built frame of a new house under construction

Trend Snapshot

Communities don’t have enough housing, or the right type of housing, to meet the needs of residents. Housing construction has lagged behind housing need for many decades. A Freddie Mac study revealed a 2.5 million shortage in housing units. The gap is especially significant among moderately priced single-family and multi-family buildings. 

Increased longevity and the decision to age in place both contribute to the housing shortage. In addition, the motivations of local government (i.e., efficiency), community boards (i.e., fear of neighborhood change), and builders (i.e., profit) also influence and contribute to the types of housing that is supplied and the resulting mismatch. This manifests in resistance to revising zoning codes to allow for more varied housing types, as well as in a scarcity of homes designed with principles of Universal Design. 


  • Increased awareness on housing mismatches is changing people’s mindsets, lowering barriers and opposition to change, and creating urgency, innovation, and legislative opportunities.
  • New innovation opportunities are emerging for different housing models and household types to fill the gap and meet the needs of single and multigenerational households.
Grandson helping his grandmother repaint the garage door at her home.


  • Market incentives are leading to an uneven and insufficient supply of housing, particularly for those with lower incomes.
    • Developers achieve the most profit on high-end homes in concentrated areas. Even subsidized housing projects require enough rental income to cover their costs, meaning not all income levels or housing types may be provided.
  • Land-use and zoning regulations are limiting innovation and making it difficult to build in existing communities.
    • Land use regulations can limit the number of smaller units within a community and keep multigenerational housing and missing-middle housing such as ADUs out of neighborhoods, perpetuating various forms of segregation.
  • Housing prices are rising faster than incomes, keeping appropriate housing out of reach for a large portion of the population.
    • Incorporating universal design features into existing housing can be a cost prohibitive process for those already struggling to afford housing costs.
  • Land privatization is concentrating more opportunity for the wealthy who are purchasing large tracts of land, limiting where people can build, including in more rural.
  • Developers are not building housing that meets health service needs because the link between housing and health is not universally known or appreciated.

What Can Be Done?

Policymakers can address the mismatch in housing needs and supply by:

Passing land-use and zoning changes to allow for increase supply and more varied housing types/sizes within communities. 

Prioritizing transit-oriented development to create accessible, affordable housing options in livable communities.

Funding additional subsidized affordable housing.

Creating programs to maintain housing stability for lower income households  

Requiring building codes incorporate universal design principles in newly constructed housing

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