United States

Key insights:

Close is an innovative tool that maps walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly neighborhoods block by block across the entire US. It is a useful travel time map for people who want to be near the amenities that matter most to them.

On it, users can filter by access to amenities like grocery stores, schools, doctors’ offices, and coffee shops.

Close is built and maintained by Henry Spatial Analysis. For full access to the map, click here.

Key insights:

Single-family zones – which cover three-quarters of residential areas in many Northern American cities – can produce harmful side effects such as inflated land values, racial and economic segregation, and urban sprawl. In response, many communities are looking at ways to introduce “missing middle” housing into existing single-family neighbourhoods.

One of the most notable reforms in recent years was the Minneapolis 2040 Plan, implemented at the beginning of 2020. Housing policies in the plan made headlines as it meant Minneapolis became the first major city in the US or Canada to abolish single family- zoning, allowing duplexes and triplexes to be built on most residential blocks. The Plan also included several provisions related to denser housing, including eliminating parking requirements and upzoning transit corridors and downtown areas.

This Small Housing Case Study shares key details of the Plan, its impact to date, and what other communities can learn from it.

Key insights:

The United States foreign-born population has quadrupled since the 1960s. In 2021, one in seven US households were headed by a foreign-born resident. Around half of these foreign-born residents have naturalized as citizens. Foreign-born residents comprise a growing share of the United States housing market: research projects that foreign-born households will become the primary source of new housing demand by 2040.

This literature review synthesizes previous research on the key barriers to and strengths of immigrants in becoming homeowners.

This report was authored by Sharon Cornelissen and Livesey Pack.

Key insights:

Manufactured housing holds promise as an affordable form of housing that could expand homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income households.

This report, from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, reviews the available literature to assess the principal barriers to greater adoption of manufactured housing, including:

  • lingering negative perceptions of the quality of the homes despite notable improvements in quality over time;
  • zoning and other land use regulations that limit the ability to site these homes in many communities;
  • market conditions that erode the cost advantage of manufactured homes; the unique nature of the supply chain for these homes that makes it difficult for consumers to obtain homes in many urban areas;
  • and limits on access to affordable financing.

This report was authored by Christoper Herbert, Alexander Hermann, Daniel McCue & Chadwick Reed.

Discover organizations from across Canada & internationally who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

About: The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies strives to improve equitable access to decent, affordable homes in thriving communities.

The organisation conducts rigorous research to advance policy and practice, and brings together diverse stakeholders to spark new ideas for addressing housing challenges. Through teaching and fellowships, they strive to mentor and inspire the next generation of housing leaders.

For more information: Head to the JCHS website.

Logo: Casita Coalition

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: Casita Coalition

About: Casita Coalition stands out as the sole statewide (USA), multi-sector organization uniting key stakeholders to eliminate policy barriers, leaving a significant imprint with neighborhood-scale homes.

Through their Board, Advisory Committee, and Working Groups, they harness the diverse expertise and experience of their members to help simplify the construction of middle homes in all California neighborhoods and disseminate solutions among an expanding community of professionals.

Spanning diverse disciplines and geographic regions, they foster collective learning and swift implementation to fortify the middle housing ecosystem.

For more information: Head to their dedicated website.

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: Strong Towns

About: Strong Towns is a dynamic nonprofit committed to reshaping urban development paradigms. Their vision is clear: make the Strong Towns Approach the default for growth, development, and prosperity in every city, town, and neighborhood.

Their mission is ambitious—replace the post-war Suburban Experiment with financially robust and resilient development. They advocate for cities of all sizes to be safe, livable, and inviting, elevating local governments to collaborative hubs.

For more information: Explore their work on gentle density & missing middle housing, or if you’re interested in broader urban matters, head to their homepage here.

Logo: Assoc. of Bay Area Governments

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: Association of Bay Area Governments

About: The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) defines itself as “part regional planning agency and part local government service provider.” It has a mission to strengthen cooperation and collaboration across local governments in California to build healthier, stronger communities and strives to accomplish their goals by providing planning services and cost-effective ABAG member services to local governments struggling with rising costs and diminishing incomes.

The public is invited to all ABAG meetings and has access to the same tools and research, with a focus on a broad range of policy areas, including the delivery of gentle density & missing middle housing.

For more information: Head to their website.

Logo for Terner Center

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: The Terner Center for Housing Innovation

About: The mission of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley is to formulate bold strategies to house families from all walks of life in vibrant, sustainable, and affordable homes and communities.

Established in 2015, the organisation has quickly become a leading voice in identifying, developing, and advancing innovative public and private sector solutions to the nation’s most intractable housing challenges.

Their work provides timely analysis and data-driven research to support policy and innovation for policymakers, practitioners, and advocates in addressing with urgency the multiple, layered crises of housing affordability, entrenched inequities, and climate change. The Terner Center aims to provide actionable, pragmatic paths that are based in evidence and can bring together a coalition to make change, including in the field of gentle density & missing middle housing.

For more information: Head to their website.

On this useful resource page from the City of San Jose, users can explore a comprehensive resource library to support research and insights into the city’s promotion of ADUs as a means of addressing housing challenges.

Key insights:

  • ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.
  • ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners.
  • ADUs are built with cost-effective wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.
  • ADUs allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.
  • ADUs can provide as much living space as many newly-built apartments and condominiums, and they’re suited well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors.
  • ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care.