Democratizing the American Dream: The Role of a Regional Housing Legislature in the Production of Affordable Housing

Economic, ethnic and racial residential segregation are ubiquitous across United States metropolitan regions. As a result, the majority of affordable housing is located in central cities or inner-ring suburbs, generally in areas of highly concentrated poverty. Outer suburbs are often exempt from providing significant housing for the economically disadvantaged regional citizens. This should not be. If housing policy in metropolitan regions were established in a democratic fashion, the give-and-take of the political process would create strong incentives for regional cooperation in the creation of affordable housing. Drawing together scholarship in the fields of local government law, administrative law, and housing policy, this Note proposes the creation of a Regional Housing Legislature (RHL), a democratically elected body composed of representatives from each of the region’s localities, charged with establishing a coherent regional affordable housing policy. The existence of the RHL will diminish the contentiousness of existing affordable housing solutions by providing democratic legitimacy and by giving each locality a meaningful voice in the development of regional affordable housing policy.