There is growing awareness that middle neighborhoods play important roles in our urban housing markets and that keeping them healthy (or making them healthier) requires interventions that respond to their challenges and assets.

What remains elusive to many communities, however, is a meaningful commitment to prioritize the middle—choosing to patiently dedicate limited resources and take risks to achieve durable outcomes. Half-hearted and inadequately funded implementation of middle neighborhood strategies is a problem, especially in cities where inequality is starkest and a strong middle is most important for building long-term fiscal capacity.

In our work on comprehensive plans and housing strategies in diverse markets, czb has found that overcoming innate resistance to difficult choices and having a market-informed framework for consistent decision-making are essential to increasing the probability of successful outcomes. The crux, in other words, is building a consensus to work in the middle and maintaining the discipline to do it effectively.

czb Field Brief: Middle Neighborhoods

This field brief offers communities a framework they can use to define the middle and understand the bigger picture. In it, we identify the two most common problems we encounter and give communities an elastic decision-making toolkit they can use to confront those challenges head-on.