Affordable housing is a hotbed to solve
Three key components to successful developments
What’s the Point?
Low to middle-income households carry the most severe housing burdens, and these are often placed on the shoulders of critical workforce members such as police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers, and teachers. Distinction among income and race cuts across market types and geographies, and high-cost housing threatens to worsen these disparities.
The housing crisis in the United States, and frankly around the globe’s most underserved communities, is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach from public and private organizations to achieve success. Attainable housing is a critical component of this approach, providing more options to more people and supporting diverse and equitable communities. However, succeeding in attainable housing requires fundamental changes to the planning, delivery, and operation of housing stock.
The three key components Hines considers as levers to solving the crisis are permitting, design and delivery, and partnerships.
Across many states the U.S. residential zoning prioritizes single-family housing and car parking, and restrictive and onerous planning systems result in lengthy determination periods for permits that do not conform to outdated policy. Change must start with policies and rezoning.
Early engagement with communities to determine the actual housing need and local councils and planning boards to support re-zoning if necessary are crucial to obtaining permits. Master planning to revitalize with a focus on placemaking and walkable amenities, re-engaging with the community on proposals, and educating them on the benefits of attainable housing can help avoid neighborhood opposition and other objections.
Design and delivery
Attainable housing often carries the stigma of poor quality and a detriment to existing community house prices. Creating unique, quality spaces that residents are proud of and implementing placemaking strategies can slow deterioration and uphold wider asset values. Offsite construction methods can speed up delivery and ensure better quality control, saving long-term operational costs. Creating sustainable properties reduces the cost of ownership, improves well-being, and supports a price premium.
Delivering a variety of housing types across the “missing middle housing” spectrum will support more diverse and equitable communities, which will in turn enrich adjoining neighborhoods. These diverse communities are key to successful urban locations as lower-income jobs meet the need for workers to support retail, food & beverage, and other service amenity offerings.
Partnerships with housebuilders and delivery partners are critical to success. These partners must be educated and buy into the benefits of a new style of master plan. Maintaining a presence in communities after completion supports values of peripheral locations for future investments and retained rental stock. Governments are large holders of vacant buildings and under-utilized land, and partnerships to support the conversion of these properties can be profitable pursuits for all involved.
Hines has a wealth of experience in master planning, delivering, and operating quality residential and commercial developments. With the right support from local governments and existing delivery partners, Hines, and the industry at large, can help alleviate the housing crisis, but it will take time and dedication.
Embracing attainable housing as a critical component of community developments, can build better, more sustainable, and more equitable communities for all.