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Lessons from the Millennial Housing Commission

What are some of the key characteristics of a healthy housing system? And how can the success of these features be measured?

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Let me suggest, in response to those questions, the following brief excerpts from the Report of the Millennial Housing Commission, which was delivered to the Congress of the Unites States on May 30, 2002, and which I had the honor and privilege of serving as  the Executive

“America’s housing challenges cannot be described with statistics alone; they must be understood as quality-of-life issues as well.

“Fundamental to the American Dream is somewhere to call home—a safe and welcoming “anchor place” where families are raised and memories are formed. Furthermore, housing must be viewed in the context of the community in which it is located. Improvements in housing need to be linked to improvements in schools, community safety, transportation, and job access.

“Success in federal housing policy needs to be evaluated not just according to the number of housing units produced but also in terms of whether the housing produced improves both communities and individual lives. Federal housing assistance programs need to be reformed so that non-elderly, able-bodied people living in assisted housing have a personal responsibility, as do others, to contribute to society as well as accept its help. It is time for America to put these quality-of-life considerations on a par with cost considerations and make housing programs work to improve communities and individual lives.

“Principal Recommendations to Congress: A Framework for Change

“The Millennial Housing Commission’s vision can be stated quite simply:

“To produce and preserve more sustainable, affordable housing in healthy communities to help American families progress up the ladder of economic opportunity.

“The Commission’s principal recommendations to Congress for achieving this vision are divided into three categories: new tools, major reforms to existing programs, and streamlining of existing programs. The four policy principles of strengthening communities, devolving decision-making, involving the private sector, and ensuring sustainability inform all of the recommendations. The Commissioners believe that these principles will make housing programs work more effectively to attain the goal of more affordable housing in healthy communities, building on what works now to meet bold housing goals tomorrow.”

Conrad Egan is Senior Advisor for the Affordable Housing Institute.

Welcome to the BPC Housing Commission expert forum! This forum is intended to foster interactive and substantive discussion about pressing housing issues. Each month contributors from different parts of the housing sector will be invited to respond to a discussion topic. Guest posts will feature prominently on BPC’s website, as well as be shared regularly with Housing Commissioners to help inform their work.

Have a pressing question you’d like us to consider? Please leave it in the comments section. We encourage you and our expert bloggers to add comments, contributing to the national dialogue on solutions for the future of the housing sector.

Expert bloggers are not members of the BPC Housing Commission. Any views expressed on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Housing Commission, its Co-Chairs, or the Bipartisan Policy Center.

2012-02-21 00:00:00

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