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Thread: Affordable housing and private developers

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Affordable housing and private developers

    Are there private developers knowns for their efforts to devote a portion of their business to affordable housing development (which seems to usually be done by non-profits?). The only one I currently know of is the Rose Co. in NYC.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Check out the Affordable Housing Design Advisor that has an excellent gallery of projects from all over the country. They provide profiles on specific "high quality" affordable housing projects, include some budget info and the names of developers, builders, architects, etc. involved in each individual profiled project.

    Some of these are for-profit developers, some are non-profit.

    Find your way to the "gallery" of projects (there is even a special section on "green" developments if that interests you) and you can browse through a few dozen profiles.

    http://www.designadvisor.org/
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Different areas of the county generally have not-for-profits or non-profits working in coordination with local government enterprises to provide for-sale affordable housing. In Atlanta we have ANDP (Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership) and in Cobb County (Atlanta suburb) we have Cobb Housing, Inc.

    These two groups are associated with local govt CDBG programs that educate low income and minority individuals on home ownership. They also provide down payment and loan assistance to get these individuals into new housing units. They are great programs and there is a huge need for them.

    I do not know of too many private developers that construct affordable housing in an urban setting. I would guess that the low profit margin and high land costs would make it difficult for it to occur in the urban market. That is why you see more affordable housing units generally built in the exurban/rural areas where land is cheaper, but commutes are astronomical.
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  4. #4
    A lot of large scale private developers do affordable housing fairly regularly depending on the region. Pulte Homes has done some here in NY, and many others are doing affordability components as part of inclusionary zoning.

    Are you looking for a list of developers or are you looking for examples of sites?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Why developers? Presumably, on average, poorer people will go into older houses (especially in the US) so developers are likely to mostly build for affluent/middle-class households who then sell on to poorer people/landlords to th epoor as they move out/up.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Why developers? Presumably, on average, poorer people will go into older houses (especially in the US) so developers are likely to mostly build for affluent/middle-class households who then sell on to poorer people/landlords to th epoor as they move out/up.
    There's a shortage of affordable housing (especially in older, urban areas) for lower class and middle class families - and there has been a lot of activism in this area to address the issue. In general, CDC's and non-profits have gotten involved in renovating older buildings or redeveloping neighborhoods - but I assumed there must also private developers working on some of these projects or just in general, developers who have some sort of social motivation besides profit.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Affordable housing

    Not always be the case. Maybe it's the wrong market. Depending on the objective of anybody who develops land, or rebuilt an existing community, the end-users are always first in mind. Some markets are just investing or putting their money in it because land values do appreciate, some are real buyers who stay for life in that neighborhood, some are just transients who resells the land. To have a control on this trends, you need to set some rules or what we call "Deed of Restrictions".

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ebina49
    There's a shortage of affordable housing (especially in older, urban areas) for lower class and middle class families.
    Is there a shortage or just a gap between what those people 'expect' and what they can afford?

    Typically, when housing becomes more expensive three things happen: more new houses are built, people live in less space, space is added hodge-podge to existing structures. In many places (definitely in much of Europe), those options are limited by law or custom, leading to something close to a genuine shortage.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Is there a shortage or just a gap between what those people 'expect' and what they can afford?

    Typically, when housing becomes more expensive three things happen: more new houses are built, people live in less space, space is added hodge-podge to existing structures. In many places (definitely in much of Europe), those options are limited by law or custom, leading to something close to a genuine shortage.
    Luca,
    Yes, there is an actual genuine shortage of affordable housing in are many communities in the US. Of course there are always people who feel they deserve more than they can afford, but this is generally not the population that needs affordable housing.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssc
    Luca,
    Yes, there is an actual genuine shortage of affordable housing in are many communities in the US. Of course there are always people who feel they deserve more than they can afford, but this is generally not the population that needs affordable housing.
    I don't see that in many of the places I've been to or where I live. It seems most cities in the US need a bit more gentrification, if for anything to improve the housing stock while giving the central cities more resources to deal with poverty in their communities.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by iamme
    I don't see that in many of the places I've been to or where I live. It seems most cities in the US need a bit more gentrification, if for anything to improve the housing stock while giving the central cities more resources to deal with poverty in their communities.
    I guess I should have written, "decent, affordable housing." If you are willing to forgo safety, decent running water, and other things that most of us consider necessities in a home, there are certainly affordable units in many places. However, if we operate on the premise that affordable housing should be clean, safe and provide the basic amenities such as running hot and cold water in the kitchen and bathroom, smoke detectors, absence of peeling lead paint, windows without boken panes, then the list of affordable units in many places quickly shrinks to nothing.

    Part of the problem, of course, is that private landlords cannot afford to maintain rental units and then charge affordable rents. That, of course, is where government programs come in handy. And creative developers with a social conscious who may be willing to accept slightly lower rates of return in order to provide affordable housing. Which brings us back to the original question - are there developers out there who are doing this?

    Yes, there are of course lots of CDCs developing affordable housing. But there are also several private, for-profit developers. The ones I am familar with in the northeast in addition to Rose Assoc. include Terracycle (Rabinovich family), Arker Company, Omni (in Albany, NY), and Pennrose (Phila, PA).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssc View post
    I guess I should have written, "decent, affordable housing." If you are willing to forgo safety, decent running water, and other things that most of us consider necessities in a home, there are certainly affordable units in many places. However, if we operate on the premise that affordable housing should be clean, safe and provide the basic amenities such as running hot and cold water in the kitchen and bathroom, smoke detectors, absence of peeling lead paint, windows without boken panes, then the list of affordable units in many places quickly shrinks to nothing.

    Part of the problem, of course, is that private landlords cannot afford to maintain rental units and then charge affordable rents. That, of course, is where government programs come in handy. And creative developers with a social conscious who may be willing to accept slightly lower rates of return in order to provide affordable housing. Which brings us back to the original question - are there developers out there who are doing this?

    Yes, there are of course lots of CDCs developing affordable housing. But there are also several private, for-profit developers. The ones I am familar with in the northeast in addition to Rose Assoc. include Terracycle (Rabinovich family), Arker Company, Omni (in Albany, NY), and Pennrose (Phila, PA).
    This last post was much better said. While some of these problems are based on private owners neglecting their tenants and property, others are the fault of the government for neglecting these neighborhoods. Either way it comes down to money and not enough of it.

  13. #13
    Any new housing increases the total supply of housing and thus makes housing more affordable. This means that every housing developer is an affordable housing developer.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it View post
    Different areas of the county generally have not-for-profits or non-profits working in coordination with local government enterprises to provide for-sale affordable housing. In Atlanta we have ANDP (Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership) and in Cobb County (Atlanta suburb) we have Cobb Housing, Inc.

    These two groups are associated with local govt CDBG programs that educate low income and minority individuals on home ownership. They also provide down payment and loan assistance to get these individuals into new housing units. They are great programs and there is a huge need for them.
    I can't agree that they're great programs. They are great at getting people in the housing but what do they do to keep those units as moderate or low income? I live in a building that had 25% of the units set aside for moderate income. We've had units go into forclosure and the agency that was involved didn't see to care at all that the unit was going on the market removing it from the moderate income housing stock. Also the unit across the hall from me was rented out at market rate from day one. It wasn't until the renters caused so much trouble that the police were called out that the owner finally stopped renting the unit and moved in. Who knows how many of these units are being bought at subsidized prices and rented out at market rates.

    The units that are resold due to forclosure in theory should refund the money back to the developing agency but that can only happen if there is money left over after the primary leinholder (typically a bank) has been paid off, which is rarely the case. I don't understand why these units are not deed restricted in perpetuity instead of the typical ten year/declining 10% method of deed restriction removal. There also doesn't seem to be any system in place to prevent these units from being rented out. As central city living become more popular, the money to be made this way is going to tempt more and more of the moderate income owners to not pass up on this opportunity.

    I don't have a problem with affordable housing but there are better ways to do it. In towers, make the affordable units the lower floors with lesser finishings. There is no reason why these units should have Corrian countertops, stainless steel appliances, and garden tubs.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  15. #15

    Affordable Housing

    Avalon Bay and Archstone are aggressive in MA in providing affordable housing, usually in conjunction with 40B projects.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Trinity Financial is another private developer that has done some affordable housing work. They're the ones that did the HOPE VI redevelopment of the Maverick Landing complex in East Boston.

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