The rising housing costs and stagnant incomes combined make American working families financially burdened says Maxwell Drever. A large population in the moderate to a middle-income segment already spends more than 30% of their annual income on rent. Affordability issues were always prevalent among the low-income groups. However, moderate to middle-income families are also suffering. They cannot move closer to the job center in the city due to expensive monthly housing expenses. If these people find decent dwellings in the communities they serve, their children can get a better education and earn well when they grow up.
Unfortunately, many neighborhoods have affordability problems. These people live on the city outskirts, which drain them of their money and time. As a result, they have no other option than to travel long distances every day to reach their workplace. There is an urgent need to meet their affordable housing needs to help them and the communities. Residential workforce units can remove the main concerns of their lives. But this demands reforms and innovative thinking, says Maxwell Drever.
Solutions for faster delivery of affordable workforce housing
The entire land acquisition and development process can be time-consuming. Hence, these working-class people would have to wait longer to see an end to everyday battles. However, the idea of transforming existing and unused assets like hotels that are worst-hit by the pandemic or other situations fits well here. Developers and designers can focus on minor modifications to turn them into livable units with the necessary structures and frameworks. This can suddenly be the game-changer. However, it can happen when other things also align.
There is an urgency to build affordable housing in the most vibrant communities. Local bodies have to relax regulations and help construct compact multi-family units on expensive land. It can also come in handy for redeveloping the existing low-density structures.
Market-rate housing is not affordable for the working class. Public subsidies can play a critical role in giving them access to basic human needs like housing. These can reduce the gap between housing costs and their earnings. Vouchers, housing trust funds, income tax credit, and others can be helpful. Generally, one in four people qualifies for these programs because their earnings exceed the eligibility threshold. However, expanding these to more families would allow them to find a decent home for themselves.
In addition to these, reforming property taxation and involving more and more developers, designers, and investors can accelerate the speed of these projects. Mass hotel conversions should not be a challenge if owners of the closed hotels also take the initiative in this direction says MaxwellDrever. Since they may not know the housing market, the hotel owners can talk to industry experts for guidance. The housing market stalwarts can acquaint them with all the nuances and support them through property inspection, modifications, pricing, and delivery.
So, these are some factors that can promote the rapid development of affordable housing for middle-income groups. If done with diligence and focus, the outcome of the entire effort can be tremendous.