America is ready for a national conversation and action on housing. Despite the lack of debate around national housing policies, people nationwide see a clear role for government, to provide solutions and policies that assures that all of us have a place to call home. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic and economic downturn combined with the amplified calls for racial justice further underscore the need to prioritize housing justice. Home is essential, but for far too many people a safe, stable, healthy home is completely out of reach.

As a nation, we have the power and resources to make sure that every one of us has a place to call home.

Over the last several decades, the federal government failed to adequately address the systemic racism and inequality permeating the housing system in the United States, while simultaneously under funding and undermining federal housing programs for the most economically vulnerable. We now face an economic and health crisis worse than the Great Depression. It is time for a transformative federal housing agenda that not only reasserts the federal role in housing, but also fundamentally reframes and reimagines that role to be centered on racial equity, increasing opportunity, and guaranteeing homes for all.

It's time for a New Deal on Housing Justice.


New Deal for Housing Justice is the result of the input, expertise, and lived experience of the many collaborators who participated in the process. First and foremost, the recommendations presented in this document are rooted in the more than 400 ideas shared by grassroots leaders and advocates in response to an open call for input launched early in the project. More than 100 stakeholder interviews were conducted during the development of the recommendations, and the following people provided external review: Afua Atta-Mensah, Rebecca Cokley, Natalie Donlin-Zappella, Edward Golding, Megan Haberle, Priya Jayachandran, Richard Kahlenberg, Mark Kudlowitz, Sunaree Marshall, Craig Pollack, Vincent J. Reina, Sherry Riva, Heather Schwartz, Thomas Silverstein, Philip Tegeler, and Larry Vale.


Lynn M. Ross, Founder and Principal, Spirit for Change Consulting


Beth Dever, Senior Project Manager, BRicK Partners LLC
Jeremie Greer, Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director, Liberation in a Generation
Nicholas Kelly, PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, Founder and Principal, Big Urban Problem Solving Consulting
Lindsay Knotts, Independent Consultant and former USICH Policy Director
Alanna McCargo, Vice President, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute
Ann Oliva, Visiting Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Daniel Pang, Research Assistant, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute
Maya Rupert, Political Strategist and Writer
Robin Snyderman, Principal, BRicK Partners LLC
Michael A. Spotts, President, Neighborhood Fundamentals, LLC
Caitlin Young, Research Assistant, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute
Mariia Zimmerman, Principal, MZ Strategies, LLC

We believe that a federal housing justice agenda cannot and should not be advanced without clear alignment with grassroots leaders and a commitment to moving toward a co-governance approach with these leaders.

What does a
safe and
decent home

Guiding Principles

Housing is a human right and housing policy must guarantee that everyone has a safe, affordable, healthy place to thrive.
Housing policy must put people first by centering decision-making on the individuals and communities who are most impacted by federal housing policy.
Housing is critical community infrastructure that must be planned, designed, operated, and budgeted for as a public good.
Housing policy must embed and pursue approaches that are equity focused, anti-racist, and anti-discriminatory.
Housing is a pathway for building and sustaining equitable outcomes for individuals and communities related to health, education, stability, resilience, economic opportunity, and more.

It is essential that inspiration and momentum for transformational change in all policy comes from the ground up, from those who are most impacted by an issue.

Using the Housing Playbook

The Housing Playbook identifies a robust and progressive housing agenda based upon a clear understanding of the necessary policy reforms and the mechanisms needed to make them, including administrative action, regulations, interagency partnerships, external partner collaborations, and actions requiring legislative and budgetary actions.

It is organized into 11 sections, which respond to specific policy questions.

The recommendations are framed in response to these policy questions in order to reinforce the guiding principles outlined above and to encourage a unified approach to embedding housing justice across federal agencies.

Policy question 1

How might the federal government advance housing policies and practices that end systemic racism and discrimination?

Policy question 2

How might the federal government advance housing policies that support individual and community resiliency in the face of a changing climate, natural and human-caused disasters, economic downturns, and global health crises?

Policy question 3

How might the federal government design housing policy that is intersectional in pursuing outcomes that positively impact physical and mental health, education, mobility, etc.?

Policy question 4

How might the federal government provide expanded support for housing and access to opportunity in rural areas?

Policy question 5

How might the federal government end and prevent homelessness?

Policy question 6

How might the federal government reimagine public and subsidized housing to better meet the needs of residents?

Policy question 7

How might the federal government reimagine housing finance systems to expand access to a broader range of housing opportunities?

Policy question 8

How might the federal government partner more effectively with grassroots leaders, state and local actors, philanthropy, and coalitions in the design and implementation of housing policy?

Policy question 9

How might the federal government address the racial wealth gap and ensure economic security and mobility across a broader range of pathways that include, but are not limited to, traditional home ownership?

Policy question 10

How might the federal government reimagine its approach to equitable and resilient communities?

Policy question 11

This section highlights an issue often overlooked in policy agendas—the people who implement them. It takes a deeper dive into how to embed a housing justice frame across the federal government using culture change, organizational structure, and personnel.