Combat homelessness in America with urban planning

January 17, 2019 · 2 min read · By ASU Online
Learn about how earning an online Bachelor of Science in Planning in urban planning can help you address the issue of affordable housing availability.

Homelessness occurs in almost every city in the U.S. Contributing factors include lack of sufficient income, unemployment and a low inventory of affordable housing. In 2017, 34 percent of the over 550,000 people experiencing homelessness lived in a place not meant for human habitation, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Attempting to remedy this issue, which is driving people to live on the street or in abandoned or condemned buildings, urban planners strive to improve housing affordability via neighborhood development strategies. Through their work creating communities, accommodating population growth and initiating revitalization projects, urban planners can assist in addressing the issue of homelessness.

Factors preventing affordable housing

The primary limitation when it comes to building affordable housing is zoning. Cities are often more inclined to zone an area for the construction of hotels or luxury apartment buildings to bring in more revenue. This leaves a relatively low supply of available space to erect affordable housing, making it difficult for the community to accommodate its lower-income and homeless populations.


Urban planners can help combat homeless

Through the development of zoning programs, urban planners can work on homeless housing initiatives that get the community involved and offer incentives for builders to create low-income homes. As an urban planner, you can establish both short- and long-term solutions to improve and revitalize communities by using local research and analysis to ensure you address the needs of the people living in the area.

Urban planning initiatives to end homelessness

Urban planners are already working in cities across the country to help decrease the number of homeless individuals in their communities. For example:

  • City funds can address the homeless population through the construction of homeless shelters throughout a city.
  • Builders may have the opportunity to take advantage of pre-approved designs for affordable housing in return for a reduction in permitting time.
  • Housing properties on city-owned land or those that receive financial assistance from the city can set minimum requirements for the number of affordable units.

Utilizing strategies like these, you collaborate to create and implement strategies that help address the availability of affordable housing.


Are you interested in planning tomorrow’s affordable communities?

An online Bachelor of Science in Planning in urban planning from ASU can provide students with an understanding of the broader purpose of urban planning while focusing on how it can impact a community by addressing specific problems like affordable housing. During the program, you can learn strategies to help communities make smart decisions about how to use their land and resources for the betterment of all individuals in the area.

Occupational Outlook Handbook for Urban and Regional Planners by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Homelessness in America: Overview of Data and Cause by National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
State of Homelessness by National Alliance to End Homelessness


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