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.

Explore the Tool

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.

Housing cost and population growth archetype

Additional Resources


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

Affordable Housing

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.

  • Affordable Housing Toolkit

    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.

  • Building Homes: County Funding for Affordable Housing

    A detailed report on the role of counties addressing funding solutions for affordable housing, featuring three case studies on innovative solutions.

  • Housing Connections: Building Affordability Through Community Engagement

    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.

  • Housing Security Solutions Framework

    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.

  • Partnership Takes On Affordable Housing

    Example of an inter-jurisdictional partnership in Colorado focused on affordable housing.

Workforce 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.

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.

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.

Intergovernmental Resources

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.

Tool Contacts

Image of Kevin-Shrawder.JPG

Kevin Shrawder

Associate Director, Economic and Government Studies
Image of Ricardo-Aguilar.jpg

Ricardo Aguilar

Associate Director, Data Analytics
Image of 156_0873_BPC_Headshots_December_2017.jpg

Tim Shaw

Associate Director of Policy, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program
Image of PIC_Schuetz, Jenny.GIF

Jenny Schuetz

Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute


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.

Related News

Harris County, Texas Commissioner Adrian Garcia describes how no zoning does not necessarily mean no problems when it comes to promoting housing affordability. Photo by Josh Reed
County News

LUCC members see housing cooperation in Arlington County, Va.

Large Urban County Caucus leadership met in Washington, D.C. and Arlington County, Va. to discuss and examine partnerships that encourage the development of housing that is affordable.

Press Release

County Leaders Call for Action on Housing Affordability, Mental Health

Intergovernmental Partnerships Key to Achieving Solutions

Home construction

HUD announces new energy standards for affordable housing

HUD announces new energy standards for affordable housing.


House Passes Historic Outdoor Recreation Legislation

The U.S. House passed the bipartisan EXPLORE Act (H.R.6492) on April 9 to boost outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands and aid local economies

Employers spread out on the floor of the 2023 Jefferson County, Ala. Second Chance Hiring Fair.
County News

Counties offer a second chance after incarceration

From job fairs and housing programs to educational opportunities, counties offer a second chance after incarceration.

Upcoming Events


Beautifying Brownfields: An Unexpected Opportunity for Your Coal Community

Join the BRECC National Network this May and learn how key federal resources can support innovative brownfield redevelopment projects in energy communities.

Harris County, Texas Commissioner Adrian Garcia describes how no zoning does not necessarily mean no problems when it comes to promoting housing affordability. Photo by Josh Reed

Robert's Rules 101: Mastering the Basics

Robert’s Rules can help you run an efficient, effective meeting – who wouldn’t want that! This virtual workshop, a part of the County Leadership Curriculum, teaches the basics of Robert's Rules and how to apply them.

Meeting attendees listen to a presenter

Global Connections for Your Local Economy Series #5: Wrap Up Discussion and NACo Resources

 If you’re ready to take your county’s economic development to the next level, join the International Economic Development Task Force throughout this Spring for a special virtual training series on how to bring jobs and capital to your community through foreign investment.

utility worker

Powerful Partnerships: How Coal Communities and Utility Companies are Working Together

Join the BRECC National Network this July and learn how utility providers and local governments are working together to mitigate and respond to economic shocks.