Key to attainable housing? Combining multiple elements

Nowadays, one affordable housing strategy isn’t enough to make a difference. You need several all at once, and the Urban Land Institute illustrates just that in their article, Housing the Masses. Here are some of the programs that need to be combined:

Inclusionary zoning – This is esssentially an affordable housing requirement as a % of total units, often 15%-20%. San Diego, Tallahassee, Palm Beach, and Key West, Florida, have recently passed such ordinances. L.A. requires 20% of housing in downtown projects to be affordable, and in the Washington DC any government assistance is coupled with an inclusionary housing requirement.

Parking reductions – The costs from parking requirements alone can kill a project before it ever gets started. L.A. reduced the parking requirement for projects within 1000 feet of a transit center to 1.25 spaces per unit from 2.25, and the city of Miami allows developers to provide residential parking off-site.

Inexpensive quality building materials – As JetBlue proves, you can be hight style at low cost, like the concrete and exposed-brick-wall exteriors at Santee Court (pictured) in downtown Los Angeles’s Fashion District, and Chinese granite countertops instead of Italian stone.

Smaller homes – There are several dozen entries on this in the Housing & Lofts section. The bottom line is households are shrinking, and so should homes.

Financing options Trusted developer-construction partnerships create cost efficiencies. Triple-bottom-line-oriented investors will accept lower-than-normal profit margins of 9-10% rather than the normal 15-20%. Low-interest financing via government programs, low-income tax credits, historic tax credits and new market tax credits all significantly lower housing costs.

Land trusts – See previous entry. Nonprofits and cities purchase land reserved for workforce housing.

Image source: crawwler

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