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Planning - Housing Choices


Current ProjectsHousing StrategyProgramsPlans and StudiesData, Maps, and SurveysTools, Links, and Resources

The Housing Chapter (3.42 MB) of the Tompkins County Comprehensive Plan states that Tompkins County should be a place where housing is affordable, safe, energy efficient, and appealing.

It is the policy of Tompkins County to:

Decorative picture of a house

  • Encourage a variety of housing options in development focus areas.
  • Support new development of housing where total costs, including utility and transportation expenses, are affordable to households with a range of incomes.
  • Promote energy efficient housing.
  • Provide housing options for an aging population.
  • Maintain an adequate supply of housing for people requiring supportive services.
  • Improve the existing housing stock.

 Current Projects

Annual Housing Snapshot

Tompkins County staff are tracking the housing market annually to ensure that assumptions and goals from the Housing Strategy remain valid and to stay on top of emerging trends.

2020 Housing Snapshot

2019 Housing Snapshot

2018 Housing Snapshot

Housing Strategy

The Tompkins County Housing Strategy was endorsed by Unanimous Vote of the County Legislature in July 2017. Developed using information gathered through the 2016 Housing Needs Assessment, the 2016 Housing Summit, the County's 2017 Legislature/Department Head retreat, and input from community members, this new Strategy aims to guide Tompkins County in meeting its housing needs through 2025. The Strategy proposes (1) direction and targets for housing efforts over the next ten years, (2) approaches to achieve desired housing outcomes, and (3) monitoring and support needed to track progress and identify concerns that may arise along the way.

The 2017 Tompkins County Housing Strategy replaces the previous 2007 Housing Strategy, which in addition to outlining four strategies to address affordable housing challenges, led to development of the Community Housing Development Fund.

Tompkins County Housing Needs Assessment

The Tompkins County Housing Needs Assessment project was completed in 2016 to update and expand upon the 2006 Affordable Housing Needs Assessment. The 2016 Needs Assessment identifies current housing needs as well as projected housing demand over the next ten years. Current and future needs were examined by various market segments (i.e., various age groups and household types, students, those with special needs, etc.). The project also looked into development costs for new housing and its results are informing the update of the Tompkins County Housing Strategy. An online survey of Tompkins County residents, students, and in-commuters was conducted as part of the Needs Assessment.

The previous 2006 Tompkins County Affordable Housing Needs Assessment documented housing, economic, and demographic trends in the County and forecasted the number of housing units that needed to be added to the current supply to meet the needs of our population through 2014. The assessment also recommended actions to facilitate an increase in the supply of affordable housing units. The study led to development of the Tompkins County Housing Strategy and the Community Housing Development Fund (formerly known as the Housing Fund).

Tompkins County Housing Summit: A Place for (All of) Us: Housing By Choice or By Chance?

Tompkins County partnered with a number of organizations and individuals to develop the Housing Summit, which was held on November 30 and December 1, 2016. Hundreds of community members participated in-person and online in this free public event, which examined the community's housing shortage, its effects, and how we can all work together to develop community-based solutions.

Video recordings of both days are available on Youtube and on the Facebook page, which is also a venue for ongoing community conversations.


Community Housing Development Fund (formerly known as the Housing Fund)

The Community Housing Development Fund is a joint effort of Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, and Cornell University and helps communities and organizations throughout Tompkins County respond to the diverse affordable housing needs of its residents. Projects must include units of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. For more information see here.

Plans and Studies

Housing Needs Assessment (2016) - note that an executive summary has been posted along with the individual reports and surveys

Affordable Housing Needs Assessment (2006)

Data, Maps, and Surveys

Tompkins County Senior Housing Preferences Survey (555 KB) (2014)

An Apartment Analysis in Ithaca/Tompkins County, New York (2.69 MB) (2012)

A Downtown Housing Strategy in the City of Ithaca, New York (545 KB) (2012)

Tompkins County Senior Needs Assessment (649 KB) (2012)

Tompkins County In-Commuter Survey Analysis (18 KB) (2010)

Tracking Subsidized Housing Units for Tompkins County (2010)

Tompkins County Renter Survey (2008)

Tools, Links, and Resources

Incremental Development Alliance

Land-Use Tools to Promote Affordable Housing (193 KB)

Model Incentive Zoning Ordinance (28 KB)

Model Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (43 KB)

Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services

Tompkins County Office for the Aging