Housing Solutions Matchmaker Tool
County Matchmaker Tool Overview
Living and working in the communities they serve, county leaders across the country understand the local housing conditions and challenges faced within the community. As these challenges appear on the doorstep of county officials, local governments often face complex decisions to effect substantive change.
The housing policy matchmaker aspires to be a resource for local officials, providing information that assists in understanding the elements of local housing markets, identifying key challenges and providing resources on policies that might help enhance the local housing landscape.
Recognizing that local governments vary in their available resources, as well as legal powers,there is no single comprehensive strategy that works for all places. Rather, the tool provides a data-informed assessment, referring local officials to resources that support county leaders’ continued actions to improve the affordability, quality and supply of local housing stock.
Intended Uses and Scope
The Housing Policy 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 matchmaker does not provide a detailed implementation plan, narrowly customized to each locality. Rather, it serves as a triage assessment that points policymakers in the right general direction and provides links to other resources that offer detailed information on different policy tools.
In addition, the tool focuses specifically on housing affordability and supply and is not intended to provide resources on all types of housing challenges, such as homelessness or mixed-use residential and commercial development. Some additional resources on those topics can be found in the “Resources on Other Housing Topics” tab on this page.
A Regional Approach to Solutions
Housing supply and affordability challenges are not the sole responsibility of counties; they are regional problems requiring a regional approach to solutions. For long term success, officials in counties, cities, towns and other local jurisdictions should coordinate with neighboring communities to develop and implement effective changes.
Counties can play a key role in organizing and coordinating a regional approach to affordable and sustainable housing. For example, Waukesha County partnered with three neighboring counties and nearly every municipality within their jurisdictions to establish the HOME Consortium, which received federal funding to fund and coordinate programs to improve home ownership, home quality, and build affordable housing.
In addition, many counties already work together within metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), such as the Twin Cities’ Metropolitan Council. However, MPOs have few financial resources tied to housing and do not have binding legal authority over member jurisdictions, making coordination and leadership by local officials to prioritize housing supply and affordability essential.
Explore the Tool
Click here to access the Housing Solutions Matchmaker tool in a new window.
In counties across America, homelessness is a crisis confronting local government. While counties are on the front lines of tackling the driving factors and downstream impacts of homelessness, our state, federal and non-governmental partners play an essential role in developing and implementing comprehensive strategies to address this crisis
Testimony on the extent of challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness and potential solutions for policymakers.
Guidance on how coalitions with community institutions and housing advocates can help create equitable and impactful solutions using a housing-first approach.
A report containing crisis, transitional, and long-term housing solutions that counties have used to address homelessness, along with details on how specific counties have implemented them.
Information and tools from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness on how communities can take a housing-first approach to homelessness.
Collection of articles, toolkits, and news on relevant policies on various ways to combat homelessness. This selection includes “Strategies to Secure and Expand Funds for Rapid Re-Housing,” “Rapid Re-Housing Toolkit,” “The SYSTEM Series,” and “Engaging Philanthropy in Ending Homelessness.”
Constituents in communities nationwide are calling on county elected officials to reduce the burdens of housing costs that force residents to relocate to more affordable neighborhoods. Although housing affordability is a shared priority across the country, available options to promote affordability vary widely between counties due to differences in jurisdiction and authority under state constitutions and statutes.
Toolkit detailing the role of counties in addressing the affordable housing crisis through partnerships, funding, zoning strategies, and federal resources. The toolkit also includes an appendix that goes into greater detail on housing affordability metrics.
A detailed report on the role of counties addressing funding solutions for affordable housing, featuring three case studies on innovative solutions.
A report on the importance of effective community engagement practices in addressing housing strategies, featuring how three counties engaged their own communities and providing further resources on community engagement.
Series of proposed solutions and solutions frameworks with sections tailored to specific kinds of stakeholders, programs, and communities. These sections include strategies for indigenous, immigrant, and rural communities.
Example of an inter-jurisdictional partnership in Colorado focused on affordable housing.
Across the country, the lack of affordable housing is severely impacting homeowners and renters, including county employees who live and work in the communities they serve. Affordable housing programs for employees reduce barriers to success at work and increase employee retention.
Strategies for how countries can reduce housing cost burdens for their own employees to better recruit and retain their employee base, featuring three case studies of county solutions.
Webinar on strategies from county leaders and research organizations to use and invest federal funding to best address the shortage of workforce housing.
A primer that provides information on the rationale for giving subsidies to middle-income families, past policies for “workforce” housing, and the implications of middle-income policies.
Planning & Zoning
Counties are uniquely positioned to respond to affordable housing challenges because of the role many play in planning and zoning. Most county governments have some planning, zoning, land use and permitting authority; with this authority, county leaders can create a regulatory framework that incentivizes developers to build affordable units without requiring additional funding from the county.
A detailed report on the role of counties addressing land use and zoning strategies to increase affordable housing, featuring four case studies on innovative solutions.
Guidance on policies to encourage walkable mixed-use development along with housing affordability.
Coordinating Regional Housing Policy
Housing supply and affordability challenges are not the sole responsibility of counties; they are regional problems requiring a regional approach to solutions. For long-term success, officials in counties, cities, towns and other local jurisdictions should coordinate with neighboring communities to develop and implement effective changes.
Guidance on how counties can promote interagency involvement in the planning and implementation of a local housing strategy.
Information on the importance of community engagement in planning housing strategies, followed by steps and examples for involving community members.
Counties vary in available resources, staff capacity and legal powers to address local housing challenges. As local front-line officials, county leaders must coordinate with state, federal and other local entities to effect substantive change.
Gives a range of recommendations for research centers and grant programs for policymakers to address homelessness, including federal funding for ending youth homelessness, disaster preparation for homeless individuals, and COVID-19 resources.
Gives a range of resources and funding options for counties and states trying to decrease homelessness. These resources include information on the Housing First Approach, increasing equity, and navigating Continuum of Care funding.
The archetype model and policy solutions for the Housing Solutions Matchmaker Tool were developed by Jenny Schuetz, Senior Fellow at Brookings Metro, and Tim Shaw, Associate Director of Policy at the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program (FSP). Housing Solutions County Profiles were developed by Ricardo Aguilar, Associate Director of Data Analytics, and Kevin Shrawder, Associate Economist, at the National Association of Counties (NACo).
The developers would like to thank the county officials and staff from NACo and the Community Advisors from the Aspen FSP, who provided thoughtful feedback and contributions to this resource. The developers also express their appreciation to the NACo Digital Communications Team for the landing page design and implementation.
See Here for additional background and information on the Housing Policy Matchmaker from the Brookings Institute.
Advancing Local Housing Affordability: NACo Housing Task Force Final Report
Senators introduced the Rural Partnership and Prosperity Act, bipartisan legislation intended to advance economic development in rural counties and overcome barriers to obtaining federal funding and resources.
County officials discussed housing affordability at NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus symposium in Orange County, Fla.
Dallas County, Texas's support for a local nonprofit has helped fund housing subsidies and additional case managers, contributing to a 32% reduction in chronic homelessness in less than two years.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Program strategy aims to ease access to safety net benefits, help local leaders promote economic mobility and join partners to unify the economic mobility field.
On August 8, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule to raise the prevailing wage standard for approximately 1.2 million construction workers under the Davis-Bacon and Davis-Bacon Related Acts.
Community Engagement, Partnerships, and Education: Fostering Healthy Dialogues and Collaborations with Community Organizations and Neighboring Counties to Advance Housing Affordability
Understand housing's broader community impact, focusing on collaboration and benefit-driven narratives.
ARPA and Beyond: County Perspectives on Using Federal Funds to Address Affordable Housing Challenges
This webinar will examine how two counties leverage their ARPA funds for housing. It will also explore approaches post-ARPA for accessing federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for housing.
We invite you to join this presentation to discover proven solutions and compelling success metrics from other counties.