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  • Eileen Zilch

Affordable Housing - A Crisis with Solutions - Part 2

April 2019 rendering of Two Saints in New Orleans

"Naturally Affordable"

With the lack of affordable housing in so many locations in the US reaching crisis proportions and limited funds to develop projects using Low Income Housing Tax Credits, developers are getting creative and are looking to "naturally affordable" housing projects as a solution.

The Two Saints project in New Orleans is an example of that creativity. Several years in the making with the City of New Orleans, Two Saints is planned to be quality workforce housing in the heart of the city for workers in the downtown tourism/restaurant industries. Rental units will contain 4 locked bedrooms with a central shared living area/kitchen. Units will come fully furnished and weekly cleaning is included. A roommate matching service will be provided. Individual rents will be significantly lower than can be found elsewhere in the city. This is a take-off on the co-living projects like Common in New York City, but targeting lower-income city workers specifically.

Another "naturally affordable" movement can be seen in tiny homes. Faith Fowler's book, Tiny Homes in a Big City, does a great job aggregating her research on using tiny homes as a type of naturally affordable housing across the US. Reverend Fowler wanted to start her own tiny home community in Detroit. Prior to launching that development, she took the time to research and visit the other tiny home communities across the US and document her findings in her book. As the leader of Cass Community Social Services, Fowler had a vision to help the very low income individuals that Cass serves to become home-owners. Her goal was to create Cass Tiny Homes and take advantage of the economies of scale of building multiple homes at a time, repurpose materials and use donated items, and make extensive use of volunteer teams to contain labor costs. And she has done just that. The Cass Tiny Home community in Detroit has over a dozen completed or in-process tiny homes to date, with more to come.

While LIHTC projects are still the "standard" way of building affordable housing, I believe we are just beginning to see creative, naturally affordable projects take off. Watch this space!

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