Forecasting Housing Options Shaping Human Progress and Human Services

This post is part of a series on forecast areas with potential disruptive developments (positive and negative) shaping the futures of human needs and human services over the years to 2035. The final scenarios and main report will be released in the upcoming months here. Previously we wrote on job loss to automation and new jobs that automation will create, as well as equity rising, the growing values of equity and inclusion in the US.

Developing Low and Very-Low Income Housing Options as a Part of Advancing Human Progress and Human Services

By Clem Bezold, Chairman and Senior Futurist, and Mary Carenbauer, Futurist

Secure and stable housing is a major human need. Housing insecurity brings a series of other needs, and inability to access secure housing inhibits human progress.

However, the cost of rent is increasing at a rate higher than growth of incomes, and more and more families are rent burdened – meaning, spending between 30-50% of income on rent.

To address this mounting problem, communities around the country are and will use a variety of approaches to increase the stock of low and very low income housing, including:

  • Rezoning to allow secondary living units, typically called Accessory Dwelling Units, attached to or in the yards of existing homes.
  • Allowing a higher number of unrelated individuals to live in the same house.
  • Encouraging sustainable, energy efficient, low cost construction of new units.
  • Fostering neighborhood parking and driving regulations to calm traffic from increased residents.
  • Taxing unoccupied homes.
  • Prohibiting or taxing AirBnb and related uses of rental properties, or taxing such use to provide a fund to make other properties available.
  • Requiring or incentivizing landlords to accept housing vouchers.
  • In addition to federally funded vouchers, creating state or locally funded vouchers; this serves to help alleviate concentrations of poverty by giving voucher holders more options of where to live.
  • Taxing construction profits to add to the funds for low income housing development.
  • When low cost solar and other sustainable energy production and storage becomes available, requiring or incentivizing landlords to install this and pass the savings on to renters; or enabling to install this equipment through loans from utilities or others, and paying the loans off with the energy savings.
  • Adjusting regulation to support fast construction of safe, sustainable and energy efficient new developments that include very low-income housing.
  • Supporting and encouraging alternative construction, including 3D printing of housing components and repurposed materials, using modular and “tiny homes”. Use of local 3D printing of home parts with quick on-site assembly will become available in many communities in the 2020s.
  • Following Los Angeles’ lead, providing cash grants to homeowners to build secondary units and agree to rent the units to formerly homeless individuals (1).
  • As the city of Denver demonstrated, where some high-end apartments are vacant, enabling subsidized low to middle income renters to move into the units (2).
  • Using various combinations of these approaches to deconcentrate poverty.


(1) Chiland, E. (2017). LA County will pay homeowners to build granny flats for the homeless. Retrieved from

(2) Schiller, B. (2018). Denver’s Solution to Its Housing Crisis: Subsidize Rent for Expensive, Empty Apartments. Retrieved from