Housing Policy and Affordability Calculator debuts at Up for Growth Action Policy Summit

MAY 1, 2019 — The Up for Growth National Coalition debuted its interactive online Housing Policy and Affordability Calculator at the Up for Growth Action Policy Summit and Legislative Advocacy Conference, a multi-day housing policy-focused forum in Washington, D.C. The first iteration of the calculator was piloted in Seattle, WA and allows users to explore how different policy inputs impact housing supply and rent affordability citywide.
Alongside Mike Kingsella (Executive Director of Up for Growth), Phillip Kash (HR&A Partner and leader of the firm’s Affordable Housing practice) explained how HR&A designed the underlying financial and economic models with significant input from local developers, policymakers, and academic economists. The Housing Calculator dynamically computes foreseeable tradeoffs between housing affordability and other public goals based on adjustments to 13 Seattle-specific policy choices. These policy choices are grouped by: Affordable Housing, Environmental Impact, Community Impact and Design, and Public Revenues. By toggling different policy levers, users generate a report that estimates changes for a typical new one-bedroom apartment on a project level (change in rent and total units, development costs, project feasibility) and citywide level (changes in long-term housing production, rent levels, cost burdening, and impact on the economy).
Elected officials, public policy organizations, and academic thought leaders have praised the Housing Policy and Affordability Calculator as an innovative device that drives policy conversations. “This Housing Policy and Affordability Calculator serves two critical purposes for policy makers,” said Congressman Denny Heck (D-Washington). “It makes stark that housing—not health care or education— is the biggest pressures in typical family budgets. And it lets us see how we can relieve this pressure through better policy that allows more construction. I look forward to seeing the Calculator used in policy discussions in Washington, D.C. and state capitols around the country to enable us to start building the millions of homes we desperately need.”
HR&A continues to support Up for Growth as the organization expands this online tool to other major cities across the U.S. starting with Los Angeles, and followed by other cities that have expressed interest, such as Boston, New York, Chicago, and Portland.
Explore the Up for Growth National Coalition Housing Policy and Affordability Calculator
Read the white paper detailing the calculator’s methodology, assumptions, and key findings