The middle-income working class, including teachers and firefighters, has been away from the housing equation for a long time says Maxwell Drever. However, the pandemic and the increasing threat of homelessness have made it a hot discussion, even though it was always an issue. Everyone had a reality check during the lockdowns that forced people to stay in their homes. At that time, the integral role of these people in society came to the forefront.
Many cities don’t have adequate workforce housing units to provide shelter to people, making 80% to 120% of the area’s average income. There are various reasons for this, such as expensive land and construction cost, regulations, etc. Expert thinkers and industry experts like Maxwell Drever bring attention to solutions that can help check this scenario.
An insight into things that can change the affordable housing scene
Government intervention is one critical aspect. Usually, state and local bodies offer housing subsidies and tax credits for the low-income population. But tax receipts considerably took a hit after the pandemic. Private players can be an efficient addition. Low and middle-income houses don’t attract them due to low values and rent. They cannot justify returns. But government subsidies, such as tax relief or favorable property taxes, can give them something to start with and implement. Even easing zoning and building codes can be helpful as this will allow them a bigger room.
Some believe that government regulations like embedding rent restrictions in the property for a long duration can be a good move. In addition, there can also be Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit to encourage developers to focus on workforce housing projects. With this, another practical idea is hotel conversions. Maxwell Drever explains that rundown or closed hotels are unused assets. Transforming them into affordable housing can free cities of dilapidated buildings and simultaneously offer affordable shelter to low and middle-income groups. Since hotels have all the essential characteristics required for residential units, smaller upgrades can expedite development and delivery.
The positive impact of building workforce housing
Firstly, the working middle population will get access to affordable housing, making them less cost-burdened. The purchasing power would increase, enabling the working class to spend money on healthcare, education, grocery stores, etc. They can save some money because these homes will most likely be closer to their workplaces. Due to this, their commute time and travel expenses will also come down.
The affordable workforce housing sector has suffered from supply shortage for a long. The widening gap needs to shrink for everyone’s benefit. The working class should get easy reach to decent accommodations, employers should be able to hire people, and purchasing power of the people should increase. With this, communities need to relate to low and middle-income people. A healthy society needs a mix of different cultures to thrive. If it doesn’t happen, there will be stagnancy. Plus, they may get deprived of necessary services in challenging times because these people who form an integral part of society don’t live nearby. The COVID-19 outbreak has been a lesson in this context.