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Abstract

The last forty years have marked a dynamic era in affordable housing. During this time, affordable housing shifted from being largely government-owned to privately-owned, though certainly supported by government efforts. This evolution thus marked a distinct switch from a supply-side approach to a demand-side approach to affordable housing. As states and localities adapted to this paradigm shift, some high-priced metropolitan regions discovered that their housing markets were squeezing out middle-income service workers, such as police officers and teachers. In response, many localities—and some states—adopted various laws and policies to spur the creation of workforce housing: that is, moderately-priced housing that is affordable and desirable for these middle-income workers. These types of efforts seemed—and, indeed, were—necessary for these metropolitan areas when the housing market was at its peak in the mid-2000s. However, with the Great Recession came a bursting of the housing bubble, and home prices dropped dramatically all around the country. With the correction in the housing market, the continued need for workforce housing programs is less clear. In the context of the changes in affordable housing, this article seeks to analyze workforce housing’s place in the affordable housing landscape and explore the need for workforce housing in the future.

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