Preservation stimulates community revitalization, heritage tourism, job creation, improved quality of life, greater shared knowledge about our past, and strengthened regional identity and local pride. The federal government helps promote preservation in local communities by researching preservation’s benefits, developing policies that foster such benefits, and providing financial and technical assistance.
Housing and Historic Preservation
America is suffering from a massive shortage of available housing units, and the crisis is particularly acute regarding affordable housing. Reusing existing buildings is integral to addressing this critical problem, and - since about 40 percent of America’s buildings are at least 50 years old - rehabilitating historic housing and adapting historic buildings not originally built for housing is essential. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is developing a policy statement on housing and historic preservation to provide expert advice to a wide range of stakeholders on the role that historic preservation can play in alleviating the housing crisis.
A draft of the policy statement on housing and historic preservation is available for public comment. Comments must be submitted in writing by 5 p.m. on November 11, 2023, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments received will be considered as the draft policy statement is finalized.
The draft policy statement provides advice to all levels of government, community groups, nonprofit organizations, developers, and others in the private sector regarding the importance of: gathering information relating to historic preservation and housing; reusing historic buildings; accelerating project permitting and environmental review; education; and collaboration.
The draft policy statement builds upon and incorporates key principles of the ACHP’s 2007 Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation Policy Statement, which focuses principally on review of affordable housing projects under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Portions of the 2007 policy statement appear (with revisions) in Policy Principle #9 of the current draft.
Measuring Economic Impacts
In 2013, the ACHP issued a report, Measuring Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation. Commissioned by the ACHP, with funding assistance from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, the report identifies and analyzes methods for measuring the economic impacts of historic preservation. The report focuses on such economic indicators as jobs and household income, property values, heritage tourism, sustainable development, and downtown revitalization, and recommends ways to improve our understanding of how preservation activity supports economic vitality. Links to other studies of preservation's economic benefits are available below under Related Resources.
Rightsizing and Revitalization
In 2011, ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson, appointed a task force of federal agencies and select ACHP members to address the issue of "rightsizing." Rightsizing as defined by the ACHP is the redevelopment of a community in response to prolonged job and population loss, housing vacancy and abandonment, and deterioration of infrastructure, all of which create challenges in the management of stabilization and reinvestment efforts in existing neighborhoods.
The Task Force visited and met with community representatives in Detroit and Saginaw, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; and Newark, New Jersey. The Task Force also commissioned two research reports, Historic Preservation and Rightsizing: Current Practices and Resources Survey and Population Change in Historic Neighborhoods.
In March 2014, the Rightsizing Task Force published its final report, Managing Change: Preservation and Rightsizing in America, addressing rightsizing and historic preservation in America's legacy cities.It offers community leaders, local stakeholders, and government agencies valuable suggestions on using historic preservation tools and techniques that have proven effective in managing change and building strong, resilient communities.
The report informs citizens, non-profits, and government officials about the important role federal agencies play in assisting communities to address rightsizing. The report also includes a list of federal programs and major foundations that may provide assistance to local governments for transformation initiatives.
Building on the research and conclusions of the Managing Change report, the ACHP issued its Policy Statement on Historic Preservation and Community Revitalization in 2016.
The ACHP encourages and supports heritage tourism, fostering public appreciation for the social, economic, and educational benefits of historic preservation.
Each year, millions of travelers visit America’s historic places. A high percentage of domestic and international travelers participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, and those that do stay longer, spend more, and travel more often. Heritage tourism creates jobs and business opportunities, helps protect resources, and often improves the quality of life for residents. The ACHP has encouraged national travel and tourism policies that promote international marketing of America’s historic sites as tourism destinations.
The ACHP also engages in ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive preservation program, reaching out to diverse communities and groups and engaging them in dialogue about what parts of our national legacy should be more fully recognized, preserved, and shared.