Affordable and workforce housing policies and initiatives put in place by the governments of Washington, D.C.; Boston; Denver; and New York City have been selected as finalists for the 2017 ULI Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award. Awarded by the Terwilliger Center for Housing, this honor recognizes innovative ways the public sector is addressing the nation’s affordable housing crisis.
The winner will be announced during the Terwilliger Center’s Housing Opportunity Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in September. The finalists are:
- Washington, District of Columbia: Department of Housing and Community Development: Washington has taken a multipronged approach to tackle issues related to housing D.C.’s residents: production, preservation, homeownership, and development of vacant properties. Production is being increased due to a housing trust fund that will provide up to $100 million annually for affordable housing development. The city has also streamlined the processes for the disposition of vacant properties, which is enhancing efficiency. It has improved programs to encourage homeownership and facilitate attainment for those who would otherwise remain renters; and it has established a Housing Preservation Strike Force to strategize how to maintain affordable units where they already exist.
- Boston, Massachusetts: Department of Neighborhood Development: Boston’s Neighborhood Homes Initiative offers a creative solution to offering middle-income housing on city-owned parcels of land that are too small for high-density developments. The program emphasizes a high level of community outreach, incorporating residents into the design process—architects develop prototypes that complement the existing street context, and the prototypes are presented in community meetings for feedback.
- Denver, Colorado: Office of Economic Development, Housing Development Division: Denver’s Regional Transit-Oriented Development Fund incorporates affordable and workforce housing into transit-oriented development through a public/private partnership. The program aims to preserve existing affordable housing along transportation corridors, placing special emphasis on units that may be lost due to gentrification. The program leverages the fund with over $500 million in local economic development activity, through construction and permanent job creation, serving economically challenged neighborhoods.
- New York, New York: Housing Development Corporation: Experiencing some of the highest rents in the United States and facing affordable housing needs that far outstrip available public subsidy, New York City has created a financing approach that substantially stretches the amount of available funding to support more development than would otherwise occur. The city’s novel approach also allows for mixed-income development and simplifies the local compliance process for developers.
“With workforce and affordable housing needs growing more severe across the country, state and local governments are rising to the challenge with creative, substantive solutions,” said Stockton Williams, the executive director of the ULI Terwilliger Center. “This year’s Larson Awards finalists are excellent examples of leadership in addressing one of the most pressing issues faced by our communities—an issue that could undermine their ability to grow and thrive in the decades ahead.”