CNCounty News

Introducing the Housing Solutions Matchmaker: A diagnostic tool that helps county officials

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Key Takeaways

County leaders understand the local housing conditions and challenges of the communities where they live and work.

The Housing Solutions Matchmaker can help local leaders as they face complex decisions on how to invest scarce resources. The matchmaker provides local governments with a concise, accessible snapshot of housing conditions, focusing on a handful of key metrics, and places the locality in context relative to neighboring communities. The tool also provides resources on specific policy solutions that counties may be able to implement to support a healthy housing market.

First, the tool places each county housing-market category based on two metrics: Population change and the home value to income ratio.

Learn more

View your county profile and associated housing resources

Population change illustrates the community’s demand for additional housing over time, while the home value to income ratio primarily depicts challenges with affordability.

Communities with a growing population (high demand) need to build enough housing to accommodate individuals and families moving to the area.

A community with a shrinking or stable population may still have affordability challenges but will typically focus more on maintaining the quality of existing homes rather than expanding housing stock.

Garnering insights on affordability is slightly more complex. Affordability reflects both housing price or rent levels and how much income households earn: There is no single home price that is equally “affordable” to all households. Furthermore, there is typically a correlation between wages and home prices; people who live in high-cost-of-living areas often earn higher incomes.

Because labor markets operate at the regional scale rather than within single cities or counties, the matchmaker calculates housing affordability as the ratio of the median house values within each county and the median household income for the metropolitan area (or state for counties not in a metro area).

High-priced counties may look affordable to those currently living in that county but unaffordable to typical households in the broader metro area. Housing affordability challenges — and solutions — benefit from a region-wide approach: for instance, many people work and live in different counties within the same region.

In addition to classifying counties by population growth and housing affordability, the Housing Solutions Matchmaker provides country-specific profiles that guide users through selected housing supply, affordability, and quality metrics to understand local conditions better.

A key findings table helps explain how individuals should interpret these metrics and communicate their findings to others.

Finally, the tool provides a series of policy recommendations to help guide county leaders in undertaking data-driven decisions.

The policy recommendations are linked to each county’s specific population growth, affordability, and quality metrics.  Though they do not provide a detailed implementation plan, the resources can help leaders chart a general direction for policy solutions based on community needs.

Recognizing that local governments vary in available resources and legal powers, no single comprehensive strategy works for all places. Instead, the tool provides a data-informed assessment, referring local officials to resources supporting county leaders’ continued actions to improve local housing stock’s affordability, quality and supply.

The tool does not aim to provide resources for all housing challenges, such as homelessness or mixed-use residential and commercial development. County leaders can find information on additional topics outside the scope of the Housing Matchmaker Tool on the “Resources on Other Housing Topics” tab on the tool’s homepage.

The Housing Solutions Matchmaker tool is a joint effort from NACo, the Brookings Institute and the Aspen Institute. View your county profile and associated housing resources at


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