Renting is a numbers game. After all, many of us want to enjoy the luxury amenities, but not many of us can afford them. As urban areas see continued increase in demand without the inventory to meet it, rents continue to rise. Affordable housing will continue to be a crisis in many major cities and towns. This type of housing, while at times lacking amenities, also must fight against the stigma of affordable housing being poorly constructed with designs that are not appealing.
It is interesting to learn that low income housing has begun to provide some of those luxury amenities
No longer does it have the same appearance of public housing with cement block finishes and a prison like feel. Using sustainable materials, these buildings can include services for their residents while appealing to renters with modern flair and design.
One such example is the Richardson Apartments in San Francisco. This five-story apartment complex features apartments for the homeless and mentally disabled. It combines social services, retail spaces and outdoor amenities, such as a green roof. While the units are not huge, just 300 square feet, they provide everything a resident needs. By combining tiny living and budget-friendly building materials, the architect was able to give these residents a beautiful building to call home.
With its onsite medical clinic, the building is also helping to cut the medical costs incurred by the city itself. The building is located where a former freeway ran before the 1989 earthquake resulted in its eventual collapse. The city also benefits by receiving tax income from land that was once vacant. Today, this building is just one example of how low-income housing can reflect a modern flair but remain affordable for the local residents.
Other cities are also looking to provide affordable housing by taking advantage of older buildings and re-purposing them into apartments or condos. By doing so, vacant building are now providing income to the city and often bringing residents back to neighborhoods considered abandoned. Downtown get a second lease on life due to some of these projects.
Vacant land can also be re-purposed for affordable housing. Tax credits are being offered to luxury complexes to cajole them into setting aside a certain number of their units for affordable rents. The result is residents of the affordable units enjoying luxury amenities and common areas.
Still even in completely affordable complexes, efforts are being made to bring in the types of amenities that all renters are looking for. This means an increase of green spaces and environmental options. Almost all complexes are now offering green amenities, such as green roofs, community gardens, energy saving appliances and low-VOC paints. Landlords are also finding the benefits of insulating their buildings better, upgrading their heating and air conditioning options, as well as offering their residents water saving faucets and shower heads.
Affordable housing has come a long way from the original public housing complexes of the 1960s and 1970s. However, pick up any housing article and it is clear that affordable housing continues to be a work in progress.