4.29.2008

HOW TO BUILD HOUSES THAT WILL SELL FOR LESS THAN WHAT THEY COST TO BUILD

A nice editorial in today's Inky on our affordable housing need: "Affordable Homes: Welcome Ideas for Housing Fund. It's a topic of personal and professional interest for me, and I am hopeful that policymakers, builders, and affordable housing advocates can come together towards solutions where everyone wins.

As my real estate guru colleague reminds me, the solution to affordable housing in Philadelphia isn't going to come from allowing developers to build more market units if they commit to building affordable units; steep labor costs, high taxes, and onerous regulations make it hard to clear a margin on any development, no matter how many bonus units you're given. Rather, the path to "go" will have to come from things like tax credits/abatements, expedited permitting, and financial/bureaucratic assistance with land assemblage.

Hey, those just happen to be things we should be doing more of in general, affordable housing requirement or no. And why not throw in some additional policy objectives, like making life more affordable for working families via transit-proximate housing (lower transportation costs) and green materials/fixtures (lower utilities costs). Clearly, there's lots to discuss here; let's hope everyone around the table can agree on a way forward that really works for everyone.
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