Only in the Midwest region are close to 50% of the homes sold at $250,000 or under. The Northeast is roughly at 33%, the South is roughly at 26%, and the West is roughly at 6%.
So does this mean there are more starter homes in the Midwest? Not necessarily. Perhaps this is linked to incomes in the region and less household wealth for people to spend on homes. Perhaps the housing stock of the homes is older and the homes need more rehab. Perhaps there is less demand for the homes due to slower population growth.
Still, the differences are stark. Could Midwestern states and communities advertise that they have cheaper housing? (Of course, an influx of residents could push housing prices up as has happened in certain locations throughout the United States.)
In New York, the governor wants the state to mandate housing production from local governments and to take over control of their land use if they fail to meet the targets. In California, a bill introduced to the state Assembly on Thursday would require approval of multifamily housing developments in walkable, transit-accessible and centrally located areas.
On Wednesday, the Oregon Legislature passed a package of bills that would require cities to set housing development goals and appropriate $200 million for affordable housing development. Earlier this month, the Washington state Legislature approved a bill legalizing accessory dwelling units, also known as “granny flats,” like an apartment made from a garage or basement. And the Washington state House of Representatives passed a bill last Tuesday that would allow multifamily housing units to be built anywhere in larger cities and near bus stops in smaller towns.
The trend is not just happening in blue states. Montana’s Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has proposed legalizing duplexes and triplexes all across the state and legalizing apartment buildings in all commercial areas. And the Oregon and Washington measures have drawn broad bipartisan support.
What does this add up to?
“We’re basically declaring a holy war on sprawl,” Matthew Lewis, communications director of California YIMBY, a pro-housing advocacy group that is backing the bill, told Yahoo News.
As the article hints, there are likely long fights over such efforts. Where exactly is the line between local control and the broader interest of the public? Particularly in communities with money and political voice, the fight may drag on.
The creation of an ad hoc affordable housing committee was announced during Tuesday’s county board meeting and comes two weeks after the county board set aside $2.5 million to start an affordable housing solutions program.
“If you work in DuPage County, you should be able to live in DuPage County,” said Deborah Conroy, county board chairwoman, after announcing the committee…
The cost of land, officials said, often hinders affordable housing developments…
From 2018 to 2022, some 862 affordable rental units were built in DuPage County, Illinois Housing Development Authority Executive Director Kristin Faust told board members Tuesday. During that same time, 996 homebuyers purchased a home with a mortgage assisted by the housing authority, Faust said.
DuPage County is a relatively wealthy county. According to the Census Bureau, the median household income is $100,292, the poverty rate is 6.9%, and the median value of owner-occupied housing is $324,900.
Additionally, the County and the municipalities within it do not have a great history of pursuing affordable housing. In the postwar era, DuPage County did not build much public housing when it had funds to do so. Municipalities largely pursued housing aimed at white, middle-class and above residents. Affordable housing has been raised as an issue in the county since at least the 1970s. Newer efforts still aim their efforts at relatively well-off residents.
By not having sufficient affordable housing in DuPage County (or in the Chicago region as a whole), the County may struggle to grow, attract workers, and continue the quality of life that residents expect.
The addition of accessory dwelling units in Seattle has surged since 2019, when the city revamped its regulations to encourage their creation, pitching the units as a way to add density gently and provide a wider menu of living opportunities in neighborhoods dominated by single houses.
Almost 1,000 ADUs were permitted last year, up from 280 in 2019. That’s a 250% increase.
How does this compare to the amount of housing needed?
The state must add 55,000 homes per year over the next 20 years to meet demand, according to Department of Commerce projections published last week. More than half must be affordable to low-income residents, and new homes are needed at all income levels, the projections said…
ADUs remain a relatively minor component of Seattle’s housing production, given that more than 11,000 homes were built last year in multifamily structures like apartment buildings and town houses…
Will these new units prove to be the answer to affordable housing? In terms of sheer numbers, the quick answer seems to be: not yet. This pace would need to pick up and/or continue for a while.
Additionally, as the article discusses, who is building these units and who is living in them? If they are primarily built and rented by wealthier property owners, does this further housing inequality?
It will also be interesting to see how the increasing density in neighborhoods affects everyday life. Will residents find additional units on properties preferable to multifamily dwellings?
Racial discrimination is abhorrent and should be prosecuted. But as a Brookings Institution analysis of the 2020 census shows, race isn’t a barrier to suburban living. Blacks are moving to the suburbs at a faster pace than whites. Anybody can be suburban. It just takes money — especially in Connecticut. In 2017, developer Arnold Karp purchased a colonial house on tree-lined Weed St. in small, ultra-wealthy New Canaan. There are no commercial or multifamily buildings on the street. He now wants to build a five-story, 102-unit apartment complex with 30% set aside for affordable housing.
This analysis of suburban and primary city portions of the nation’s major metropolitan areas shows that these big suburbs are more racially diverse than the country as a whole. Moreover, in contrast to how white flight fueled growth there in the past, most big suburbs have shown declines in their white populations over the 2010-20 decade. Their greatest growth came from Latino or Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, persons identifying as two or more races, as well as Black Americans—continuing the “Black flight” to the suburbs that was already evident the 2000-10 decade.
Today, a majority of major metro area residents in each race and ethnic group now lives in the suburbs. And for the first time, a majority of youth (under age 18) in these combined suburban areas is comprised of people of color.
But, as a sociologist of suburbs, here is what is missing from the critics’ analysis: people of different racial and ethnic groups are not evenly distributed across suburbs and not all racial and ethnic groups have the same wealth, income, and resources to obtain suburban homeownership.
In other words, because social race and race and ethnicity in the United States are connected, it is not just about money in reaching the suburbs.
What is really at stake? From the critic:
Local control will be obliterated. Albany will call the shots on what your town looks like, how much traffic there is and ultimately what your home is worth…
Ensuring a supply of affordable housing within a region is more reasonable than demanding every town alter its character.
Suburbanites like local control and local government. These arrangements allow leaders and residents means by which to decide who can live in their community. This is often done through housing values and prices; ensure the land and homes or rental units expensive enough and the community can be exclusive.
Additionally, one of the problems of affordable housing – and other land uses less desired by suburban homeowners (including drug treatment centers and waste transfer facilities) – is that few suburban communities want it. Communities with means and political voices will keep affordable housing out. This means affordable housing is not plentiful often and is often clustered in particular locations. One reason states are pursuing this at a metropolitan level is that there is not enough affordable housing in the current system that prioritizes local decision making over what is good for the region.
Suburban residents may not like the idea of affordable housing arriving in their community. However, the legacy of housing in the United States is often one of exclusion and restriction, not about communities and residents coming together to provide housing for all.
Atherton is a small suburb – under 7,000 residents – with a median household income of over $250,000. In question is a California effort to increase affordable housing.
Are there any or many communities in the United States where the wealthy do not pursue NIMBY policies?
Could it be different in places where wealthier residents can escape by living high up in the air? I am thinking of residences like the pencil skyscrapers just south of Central Park or the new condos south of downtown LA.
Or, could it be different in places that are more rural? According to Wikipedia, Atherton “has very restrictive zoning, only permitting one single-family home per acre and no sidewalks. This policy that prohibits homes from being on less than an acre.” But, imagine a place with even bigger lots and more room. Would denser housing in part of the community be perceived as less problematic by neighbors?
I am open to hearing about wealthy communities where affordable housing is desired and pursued.
3D printing offers potential solutions to major challenges for the U.S. housing market: reducing the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change and rising housing prices contributing to surging homelessness. Some experts expect the American industry to boom in the next two to three years…
But 3D-printed houses are already 5%-10% cheaper than a regular build in the United States, according to Zach Mannheimer, CEO of Alquist 3D, which aims to build affordable 3D-printed homes to serve lower-income communities, and experts predict costs will go down as the industry expands. A 2018 study in the academic research publication IOP Science: Materials Science and Engineerings, based in the U.K., argues that 3D printing can cut costs by at least 35%…
If scaled up, 3D-printed buildings are significantly better for the environment than those that are built from scratch on-site. The building process cuts waste by 60%because it only manufactures the materials required. There’s no need to trim or subtract excess materials so they aren’t sending unused wood, concrete or glass for window panes to the landfill, according to academic research. And 3D printers work better with nontraditional cement alternatives such as “hempcrete” — a mixture of hemp, sand and other materials — than they do with regular concrete. That could encourage the concrete industry to pursue more sustainable alternatives to concrete, which creates significant greenhouse gas emissions in its production…
HUD seems optimistic about 3D-printed houses as a climate change solution. “3D printing is one of the promising advances in construction which the HUD team sees as having the potential to lower housing costs and increase energy efficiency and resilience,” a HUD spokesperson told Yahoo News in an email.
While there are still multiple barriers to overcome, the advantages listed above sound intriguing. If costs are consistently lower, building speed is quicker, and there are sizable environmental payoffs, this could interest many in the housing industry ranging from those looking to make money to people searching for cheaper housing.
All those advantages noted above lead me to wonder about barriers to entry in this field. Can conventional builders pivot or would they rather continue with their approaches? Are there companies more in the tech or manufacturing fields who would get into housing? Can we envision a point where individual property owners could use 3D-printing to do their own thing?
With one person in the article estimating only 10 such homes were built in the United States last year, even a small increase in numbers next year could lead to a sizable percentage increase.
Now, under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2023 budget that passed last month, the city will direct $3 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds toward a tiny homes project that she said will be the “first of its kind.”
Though a small fraction of the nine-figure sum the city will spend on affordable housing investments, “we must push ourselves to be creative,” Lightfoot said when she unveiled her budget. “Tiny homes are an interesting innovation that we should embrace as a city.”
Cron said that was a long-sought victory for his organization, which has watched the concept take off elsewhere in the U.S., including several in Midwestern states. He blamed the earlier resistance on “red tape” and “politics” hindering city officials from moving forward…
Upon construction, the 500-square-foot tiny homes will compose a “micro-neighborhood” on two to five city-owned lots, with an average of two to four homes per lot, Department of Housing spokesperson Eugenia Orr said in a statement to the Tribune. The housing will be long term, with heating, plumbing and other required features under the Chicago building code. The structures will not be mobile, unlike the RV homes that make up existing communities in some pockets of the Chicago area. Specific locations for the city pilot program have not been determined.
Though the project is pitched to combat homelessness, the city intends to cater to specific subpopulations such as veterans, new mothers, LGBTQ youth and high school or college students, Orr said. She also listed “nontraditional” students, young professionals and members of a “limited-equity co-op,” a homeownership program where residents buy a share of the complex and resell it in the future.
I would be interested to know how much the pilot program follows practices from other cities and makes changes for the particular program, context, and goals in Chicago.
Additionally, if this shows promise, how might it be scaled up? I imagine finding sites is difficult and these micro-neighborhoods benefit from services. Can a larger version of this put a significant dent in homelessness in Chicago or is this always a viable option among a number that are needed?
Even more broadly, does this hold promise for addressing affordable housing in Chicago? Can tiny houses provide enough units to help people have good permanent housing (and ownership, as suggested above)?
The Naperville City Council this week gave the go-ahead for a developer to pursue an annexation agreement that would absorb the Naperville Polo Club into the city and open the door for the land to be transformed into a residential subdivision.
Mayor Steve Chirico and council members expressed support for the plan that would bring 252 single-family homes and 149 townhouses to 110 acres off 119th Street just east of Route 59. But they requested project tweaks mostly focusing on traffic flow and congestion…
Pulte plans to build four different home styles at differing price points, including a percentage of affordable housing dedicated to households earning $100,000 to $125,000 a year.
This is a follow-up to a recent post where I wondered about this being labeled as affordable housing. I would like to hear more from elected officials and city employees about how they see this serving the affordable housing needs of Naperville and the surrounding rea. Who exactly do they hope moves into such affordable housing? Why not offer cheaper housing? What does Pulte think of constructing affordable housing? There is a lot more that could be explored here but I suspect the involved parties will be happy to claim they helped provide “affordable housing” in a wealthy suburb.
While the council has not adopted any measure requiring affordable housing, Pulte designed Naperville Polo Club in response to the city’s stated priorities, Whitaker said. They are committing to sell 20% of the town homes at an affordable level based on area median income, or AMI.
“Pulte will target buyers at 80-100% Naperville AMI consistent with household income targets set forth in SB Friedman’s Affordable Housing Program,” Whitaker said in the letter. “This target demographic for for-sale housing represents household incomes of approximately $100,000 to $125,000 and translates to a home purchase price below $440,000.”
With the median household income of DuPage County at over $94,000 and Will County at over $90,000 – Naperville spans both counties – this affordable housing is only accessible to people above the lower 50% of household incomes in the counties.
It’s not often the Naperville City Council receives a standing ovation.
But it happened Tuesday after a 9-0 vote authorizing pursuit of an affordable housing project on city land southeast of the corner of 103rd Street and Route 59 on Tower Court. As part of the potential agreement for development, a minimum of 60 units would be built for seniors and for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
When the vote finished, more than a dozen audience members clad in red shirts with “I (heart) affordable housing” written on them stood and cheered the decision — more than a year in the making — that paves the way for young adults with special needs to live independently.
In both cases, housing is needed.
But, what is “affordable housing” about? Is it about keeping Napreville residents in Naperville like seniors and young college graduates? Is it about providing housing that provides no threat to larger homes and higher property values? Is it about providing units to those who live and work in wealthier suburbs but cannot easily afford to live there? Is it about providing units within a region where tens of thousands need affordable housing? Is it about providing housing for those who could not otherwise live in a wealthier suburb?