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State of Play | How State Policymakers Are Addressing Housing Issues

Lawmakers discuss how their states are tackling rising housing costs, how a lack of affordable housing affects state economies and more.

By State Legislatures News Staff  |  February 6, 2024

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordable housing means a household pays no more than 30% of its gross income for housing and utilities. Considering a survey from the U.S. Census Bureau found more than 40% of renters topped that amount from 2017-2022, it’s no surprise that housing is a top issue for state legislatures in 2024.

Housing takes center stage during the latest episode of the bipartisan monthly video series “State of Play,” a partnership between A Starting Point and NCSL that seeks to demystify state legislatures and public policy. In it, Minnesota Rep. Esther Agbaje (D) and North Carolina Sen. Paul Newton (R) delve into questions on how a lack of affordable housing affects state economies, the specific roles states play in housing policy, ways their states are tackling rising housing costs and more.

Newton, who serves as North Carolina’s Senate majority leader, says it’s critical to address the shortage of housing—particularly affordable and workforce housing.

“Otherwise, it’s going to manifest in a slowdown in our economy and any state’s economy that’s suffering from the same problem,” he says.

Agbaje, the Minnesota House of Representative’s assistant majority leader and vice chair of the Housing Finance and Policy Committee, adds that housing is a foundation people often build their lives on.

“If you’ve been housing secure, home is where you eat, home is where you shower, home is where you leave for work, where you leave for school,” she says. “So with the cost of housing going up and a lot more families becoming housing insecure, it means people aren’t able to focus on school, on work, on building their income, on building their wealth, making sure that they’re even healthy. That all becomes a lot harder to do.”

Learn more by watching the full video above. 

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