Affordable housing has a branding problem. When we think about affordable housing, we tend to think of projects that are built with the cheapest materials and least investment in design, aesthetics and amenities. Affordable housing is often viewed as an afterthought—a place for people who don’t deserve better or can’t afford better than what they get. But this isn’t the truth at all! Affordable housing can be beautiful and fun (and healthy!) just like market rate homes. In fact, many cities have been slowly realizing this important shift: by rebranding affordable housing, they are changing how they think about building communities for everyone instead of just those with money to spend.”
How we think about affordable housing is holding us back.
- Affordability is not charity.
- Affordable housing is a good investment.
- Affordable housing is good for the economy, environment, and community.
- Affordable housing supports people who need it most in their communities.
Rebranding Affordable Housing
Affordable housing has a bad name. The word itself is a misnomer, since the reality is that affordable housing costs money to maintain and build. Affordable housing aims to provide low-income families with decent living conditions at an affordable price. However, many believe that only those who are below the poverty line should be able to afford it; thus it is often called “low income” or “subsidized” housing in order to avoid using the pejorative term “poor.”
The reality is that all Americans should have access to decent living conditions at an affordable price: renters who earn too much money for public assistance but not enough to buy a home; young adults who can’t afford their own place yet; families with children whose parents aren’t making enough money yet; etc. Even though they may not need government assistance themselves (or even know they qualify), these people deserve help because they are part of our community and contribute positively towards our society’s growth.
Reclaiming the Community of Need
The community of need is a concept as old as affordable housing itself. The idea is that there are communities of people who have needs that are not being met by the market, and therefore they require some form of intervention to meet those needs.
To reclaim the community of need, we must first understand what it means and what it stands for. In essence, the community of need describes those who are underserved by our society’s current market forces: people with low incomes or without any income at all; families with children; seniors and disabled individuals; veterans; immigrants—all groups that require some level of public assistance in order to achieve an adequate standard of living. In some cases (such as families) this assistance takes place within a family unit; in others (such as disabled individuals), it takes place outside the family unit but still relies heavily on other people within society helping out through charity or government programs like Medicaid/Medicare or Social Security disability benefits
Designing Communities With our Residents In Mind
In the last 50 years, affordable housing has been thought of as a problem to be solved. We need to change that mindset by looking at affordable housing as a solution. Affordable housing is not just a set-aside or a program; it’s an opportunity to create communities that are attractive and appealing to residents, functional and easy to use on a daily basis, safe and secure for families, healthy for residents—both physically and environmentally—and most importantly, affordable. It also allows us to build beautiful places where people want to live!
Affordable housing deserves as much confidence and attention as market rate. It can also be beautiful, fun and healthy.
Affordable housing is a community issue. It’s not just about building homes; it’s also about creating healthy, vibrant communities where people can thrive. YIMBYism (stands for “Yes In My Backyard”) isn’t just about building as many units as possible; it’s about creating communities that are better for everyone.
Affordable housing is not just a housing issue. Affordable housing is also an economic development tool and an environmental sustainability measure—a way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and reduce traffic congestion by allowing people to live close to their jobs or school districts, rather than being forced out of the area by rising costs of living and transportation needs. Affordable housing provides opportunities for low-income residents in high-opportunity areas who might otherwise be excluded from these neighborhoods due to cost barriers like down payments or credit requirements while encouraging mixed-income developments that support diverse social networks and enriching local businesses.”
Affordable housing is a vital part of our communities. It’s time we start treating it that way by creating more spaces where people can meet their basic needs without sacrificing quality of life or access to the things they love. Rebranding affordable housing will help us do this by giving people better access to high quality homes and neighborhoods at lower costs than those available today on the market rate side of things. The future of affordable housing depends on how well we rebrand it, so let’s get started!