Bringing the Housing Conversation to DC

May 7, 2019 | Mike Kingsella
Reading time: 4 min

Last week, members of Up for Growth Action were in the nation’s capital for our first annual DC Policy Summit and Legislative Advocacy Conference. We had two full days of meetings and presentations, and we also announced the public release of Up for Growth National Coalition's newest research tool, the Housing Policy and Affordability Calculator. In our latest Insights Report, we provide a quick rundown of our week in Washington and what we hope to accomplish in the months ahead.

The week kicked off with a roundtable discussion featuring Congressmen Denny Heck (D-WA) and Sean Duffy (R-WI), who are both members of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and both have a keen interest in housing policy. In fact Congressman Duffy is the Ranking Member of the Housing Subcommittee, and Congressman Heck co-authored the New Democrat Coalition’s “Missing Millions of Homes” report. They discussed some of the committee’s work on housing and what to expect in the 116th Congress, including the Committee’s previous day hearing on the Infrastructure Needs of America’s Housing Stock. And what was a departure from the perceived partisan warfare of Washington, the two members spent much of their time discussing how much they agree on the issues of the day – including housing. Up for Growth Action is here to facilitate those conversations and push bipartisan solutions with broad-based appeal.

Up for Growth National Coalition released its Housing Policy and Affordability Calculator during the Conference. The first instance of the calculator focuses on Seattle and the cumulative impacts of individual city and state-specific housing policies on the cost of rent, the probability of a project getting built, and the expected change in citywide housing supply. We received some positive feedback on the calculator and suggestions that will be incorporated in future iterations of the calculator. Seattle is the first of many calculators; we will bring it to cities across the country in the coming months. Take some time to utilize the calculator today, and see how small policy choices can make big impacts on housing.

Discussion

The presentations at the Policy Summit were incredible and focused on the benefits of building housing in smart and strategic ways. Brandon Palanker, Founder and President of 3BL Strategies, discussed how eliminating barriers to housing in walkable and infrastructure-rich places can have significant social, economic, and environmental impacts.

And closing us out was an all-star panel on “Artificial Barriers to Housing and Equitable Housing Zones Panel” with Jenny Schuetz, Ph.D., Brookings Institution (and our newest advisory board member); Sebi Devlin-Foltz, Harvard University's Opportunity Insights; and Mike Wilkerson, Ph.D. from ECONorthwest who was one of the primary authors of our Housing Underproduction in the U.S. report. Whether it’s limiting needed growth in the supply of housing or having a disproportionate impact on upward mobility, the implications of housing policy go far beyond simply what kind of home a family occupies. Stay tuned to how we hope to combat these challenges through federal legislation.

These presentations and conversations guided our conversations on the Hill, where we met with over 20 offices, including Senators and Members of the House of Representatives from across the country. After long being a dormant issue on Capitol Hill or one “reserved for local government,” it’s clear there’s an appetite for action in Washington. That’s why Up for Growth Action is so active in Washington – we hope you join us as we advocate for solutions that create the equitable communities that we all desire.