What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “affordable housing?" Crime, low property values, poor design? These negative connotations cause many cities and private developers to approach affordable housing projects with excessive caution, leaving many opportunities untouched. Despite government incentives, such as federal grants and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, there is still an enormous shortage of affordable housing units in America. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, only one in four households eligible for rental subsidies actually receive assistance.
Public and private developers in the Phoenix metropolitan area are working to change the affordable housing landscape in Arizona. By rejecting the dull, uniform designs and poor management of the past, developers are creating desirable places to live. The new high standards are creating communities that residents and surrounding neighborhoods and businesses can be take pride in.
What is the secret to their success? Key trends include:
- Location: The Arizona Department of Housing Low-Income Tax Credit program strongly favors transit-oriented developments. This incentive, along with light rail development, has caused many affordable housing developers to select transit-accessible sites, which is critical for low-income households who may not have the money required to own a personal vehicle.
- Sustainability: Green building techniques keep maintenance costs low, which allow more financial leeway for the property manager and residents. Additionally, well-constructed buildings with natural features can prevent asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
- Community Involvement: Including the host community early in the planning process will help create a development that fits in well with its surroundings. By gaining neighborhood support, residents have a better chance at settling into their new home and becoming contributing members of their community.
- High-Quality Design: With the guidance of skilled architects and landscape architects, developers are creating attractive housing that enhances the surrounding area, rather than isolating the development. These styles attract renters, thereby increasing the chance of long-term success.
- Good Management: One of the most critical parts of the long-term success is the management practices. Property managers, like Dunlap and Magee, provide professional, reliable services that support residents and engage the surrounding community.
Is this new investment worth it? In a social context, high quality affordable housing provides residents with safe, healthy, and enjoyable living conditions, which enables them to focus on family, education, work, and community. How about in an economic context? Yes! A 2011 study found that affordable housing development contributes to jobs creation and local economic development in a number of ways.
- Job creation and local spending: As with all housing developments, jobs are created through the project’s developments and new consumer spending is stimulated once the units are occupied.
- Stronger housing market: Home buyers who participate in affordable housing programs are less likely to foreclose because they have a stronger financial and knowledge base.
- City revenue: Developments contribute income for municipalities through building material sales tax, corporate taxes, and zoning and inspection fees.
- Stronger workforce: Residents who aren't burdened with housing costs are more reliable and productive workers, which creates a more competitive local economy.
What does the affordable housing market look like in your community? Can you think of creative ways to attract more affordable housing developers to the market?
Credits: Images by Lynn Coppedge. Data linked to sources.