Research Report State and Local Housing Decommodification Efforts and Their Implications for Federal Policy
Samantha Fu, Kathryn Reynolds, Samantha Atherton
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Decommodifying housing has gained increasing interest from policymakers in recent years—in his FY 2025 budget, President Biden proposed a $20 billion fund that would, among other things, increase the stock of permanently affordable housing, including community land trusts and mixed-income public development. To inform federal policymaking, we conducted a national scan of state and local policies and proposals that aim to support housing decommodification. Based on our findings, we propose three key considerations for federal action.

Why This Matters

Commodification, which enables and incentivizes the treatment of housing as an asset to profit from rather than an essential good to be used, exacerbates housing unaffordability and housing insecurity. In contrast, decommodification, which entails decoupling access to housing from ability to pay, can contribute to a more equitable housing market by ensuring that low-income households, households of color, and other historically marginalized groups have access to safe, stable, and affordable housing in places where they can access jobs, services, and other necessities that position them to thrive.

What We Found

We identified three main strategies by which state and local housing decommodification efforts are occurring: (1) efforts to create publicly owned, permanently affordable housing; (2) efforts to limit speculation and profit-making in the housing market; and (3) efforts to bolster community and collective ownership. We map the places across the country where each strategy has been recently proposed or enacted.

State and Local Efforts to Support the Decommodification of Housing graphic

We then evaluate the extent of federal action in each of these areas and propose three key considerations for federal policymakers interested in further advancing decommodification:

  • How much permanently affordable housing needs to be created to achieve stability and affordability for all households?
  • How can public and social housing be designed to avoid past pitfalls and ensure sustainability?
  • How can housing providers build community power and foster resident leadership while advancing equity and inclusion?
Research Areas Housing
Tags Community and economic development Federal housing programs and policies Housing affordability Housing markets Housing stability Public and assisted housing Shared equity housing
Policy Centers Research to Action Lab
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