Real Estate & Housing

5 Reasons to Be Hopeful About Housing

Nikki Lowy | 23 May 2019

I came to Landed fueled by a desire to work on a solution that contributes to making the cities we live in more closely reflect the values of diversity, equity, community, and compassion. Democratizing homeownership for people of all backgrounds has become a core component of my personal mission. Working with school districts who want to help their staff build wealth and put down roots in their communities is enormously fulfilling and energizing. Yet, Landed is only one tool in the vast toolkit needed to address the overwhelming housing challenges facing cities across the country.

As excited as I am about the work we’re building at Landed, I am equally heartened by the great policy and community leaders, businesses, and nonprofits who we’ve joined in this all-hands-on-deck effort to tackle housing needs of all kinds.

In the spirit of Affordable Housing Month, I’m excited to share five things that are giving me hope that we can, collectively, make strides towards building, preserving, and financing more housing across the United States.

1. Bold Policymakers

In cities across the country, we can celebrate leaders like California State Senators Nancy Skinner and Scott Weiner, whose ambitious albeit recently (and unfortunately) shelved Senate Bill 50 aims to increase opportunities to build more housing near transit. Cities like Minneapolis, led by City Council President Lisa Bender, have already paved the way by eliminating single-family zoning, long a pillar of racist segregation policies.

2. Innovative (and Cost-Effective) Construction Technologies

Modular is having a moment. With the cost to build at an all-time high, companies like fellow Ivory Prize winner Factory OS and Rad Urban are seeking ways to lower construction costs by fabricating housing units or components offsite in a fraction of the time of traditional construction. By reducing costs upfront, housing developers should be able to provide reduced rents once these units hit the market.

3. Inspiring Community Organizers

Much of the most impactful work in housing is happening on a local level, led by organizers deeply invested in making their own communities more equitable and inclusive. Some of the folks that have recently inspired me include Tyrone Poole, founder of OneApp, a service to help disadvantaged applicants find housing in Oregon; Gloria Bruce from East Bay Housing Organizations; and leaders from great local organizations like TechEquity Collaborative and Abundant Housing LA.

4. Catalytic Capital

One of the big barriers to creating more middle-income or “workforce” housing is that there have been virtually no funding sources available to finance this type of housing. An emerging group of corporate and impact investors including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and LISC, LinkedIn, Turner Impact Capital, and Kaiser, are stepping into this void to bring needed capital to this sector. Other organizations like the SF Housing Accelerator Fund are drawing on both corporate and public funds to preserve existing affordable housing.

5. An Abundance of Ideas and Innovation

According to a recent TechCrunch article, there are literally “hundreds of startups rebuilding affordable housing from the ground up.” These include companies like The Kelsey, which finances and builds inclusive disability and affordable housing; Roomily, which matches renters with homeowners with affordable, spare rooms; North Carolina-based The Lotus Campaign, which aims to increase housing options for people experiencing homelessness; and so many more. And the capital is following. 

Annie, Jess, and NikkiAt Landed, we recognize that the path to widespread change in housing affordability is long and difficult. No one understands this reality better than the educators we work with each day who are on the front lines of this struggle, faced with escalating rents and home prices, long commutes and stagnant wages. These days, it’s hard to feel hopeful about housing. Yet, it’s nevertheless comforting to recognize the glimmers of opportunity in the wave of leaders and innovators who are striving to make housing more affordable, accessible, and inclusive for individuals and families across the country. We’re privileged to play a small part in this movement.


 

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Real Estate & Housing

About the Author

Nikki Lowy

Nikki leads Partner Success at Landed. She's a 3rd generation San Franciscan, proud Golden Bear & Penn Quaker, urbanist, cyclist, and urban cyclist.

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