Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Need For Affordable Housing

The United States is short about 8 million affordable housing units to meet demand.  The only way to get there is to build higher density apartments and condos particularly in urban areas where land is scarce.  And, it means building 4 or 5 story buildings and maybe even taller constrained in some cases by parking requirements.  Using vacant land to accommodate housing is perhaps easiest since it usually just involves rezoning and a new master plan.  However, repurposing land used for commercial buildings that have outlived their useful life is also a great option.  

Big Box stores made obsolete by online shopping can be torn down and turned into 4 or 5 story apartment buildings and condos.  Creating developments for 55 or older tenants or owners whether apartments or condos makes sense too because Baby Boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day for the next 15 or more years.  Many of these Seniors may want to downsize and be rid of the responsibility of maintaining a single family home.   It is also an opportunity to bank some equity to cover daily living expenses by adding to savings to live on. 

Clearly, we have to rethink life styles in the United States.  The American Dream of owning a single family home with a big back yard may not make sense for many Americans who are single, or a couple of any age with few or no children.  Certainly, as a rule of thumb living in a dwelling that is about 750 square feet per person is more than enough space to live a comfortable life with common areas in a development for other group purposes.  

One way or another, we must create about 8,000,000 affordable housing units particularly in large urban areas to accommodate the demand.  Repurposing land that currently contains buildings that have outlived their useful life and are fully depreciated is the way to do it.  It is already happening; but expect more to come.  

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