The ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing has announced the five winners of this year’s housing awards. Masonvale in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax County, Virginia, and Yarmouth Way in Boulder, Colorado, received the 2013 Jack Kemp Models of Excellence Award. Recipients of the Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Award were Baltimore; Massachusetts; Park City, Utah.
Winners for both the Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Awards and the Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Awards, selected by the ULI Terwilliger Center’s national advisory board, were honored at ULI’s Fall Meeting in Chicago.
The Jack Kemp Awards—named in memory of Jack Kemp, who was secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a member of the ULI Terwilliger Center national advisory board—are given to workforce housing developments that represent outstanding achievement in several areas, including affordability, innovative financing and building technologies, proximity to employment centers and transportation hubs, high-quality design, involvement of public/private partnerships, and replicability of the development, among other criteria.
According to Lynn M. Ross, ULI Terwilliger Center executive director, this year’s Kemp Award winners illustrate the importance of expanding workforce housing options in locations that are well served by transit and near major employment centers. “The attention to architectural detail, environmental considerations, and site design demonstrate that pursuing affordability doesn’t mean sacrificing quality,” she said.
The 2013 Jack Kemp Models of Excellence Award winners are the following:
- Masonvale, Fairfax County, Virginia. Developed by Mason Housing Inc., Masonvale is an employer-assisted housing development of 156 workforce rental units on the eastern edge of the George Mason University (GMU) campus. Located in a region known for its high cost of living, the university considered how to address its need for workforce housing options. GMU donated land for the development, which provides conveniently located, high-quality housing at below-market rents. Units are limited to GMU faculty, staff, and full-time graduate students and employees of the city of Fairfax and Fairfax County, with priority given to new faculty. Particularly notable at this project is the distinct architectural character of the colonial- and craftsman-style homes, as well as the overall community design, which was managed by Torti Gallas and Partners.
- Yarmouth Way, Boulder, Colorado. Yarmouth Way, a mixed-income residential development with 25 single-family units on 1.82 acres (0.74 ha), is located in a city with one of the highest housing costs per capita in the United States. Positioned at the southern end of the Holiday neighborhood, the project was developed by 4655 Yarmouth LLC, a partnership between Thistle Communities, a nonprofit developer, and Allison Management, a for-profit developer. Yarmouth Way offers three- and four-bedroom family-oriented workforce units in a city where most permanently affordable units have only one or two bedrooms. Ten of the townhouses and single-family homes at Yarmouth Way are affordable to families earning 69 to 109 percent of the area median income (AMI). Yarmouth’s unique site design includes a central lane that offers a common gathering space for residents and encourages neighborly interaction. Yarmouth Way demonstrates what can be accomplished when resourceful public/private partnerships cooperate to meet civic goals.
In addition to the two Jack Kemp Award winners, the ULI Terwilliger Center recognized one finalist, Lofts at Reynoldstown Crossing in Atlanta, an adaptive-use residential development located on a 1.8-acre site (0.7 ha) as part of the Atlanta BeltLine revitalization effort. The goal of Lofts at Reynoldstown Crossing is to help stabilize the surrounding neighborhood while helping address Atlanta’s housing affordability challenge.
The Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Awards are given to exemplary state or local governments that provide ongoing and sustainable support for the production, rehabilitation, or preservation of workforce housing. It is named in memory of ULI leader Robert C. Larson, a longtime ULI trustee, a ULI Foundation chairman, and a member of the ULI Terwilliger Center national advisory board. Policy programs are judged on a number of factors, including impact on the supply of workforce housing, comprehensiveness of the tools and programs employed, involvement of public/private partnerships, and the ability to leverage private and nonprofit funds, among other criteria.
“On the surface, the three recipients of the 2013 Larson Awards appear to be very different—a strong market state, a weak-market older industrial city, and a resort community,” said Ross. “However, each recipient not only demonstrates the value and effectiveness of having a comprehensive suite of housing policy tools that are responsive to market challenges, but they also create a clear vision for expanding housing affordability.”
The 2013 Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Awards winners—and a description of their housing program—follow:
- Baltimore Housing, Baltimore, Maryland—Vacants to Value Program. With the city having lost nearly a third of its population since the 1950s, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake launched the Vacants to Value program to help attract 10,000 new residents. The program, managed by Baltimore Housing, has leveraged millions of dollars in private capital and worked across city agencies to transform vacant housing stock into workforce housing. Vacants to Value uses streamlined processes; receivership auctions; enhanced code enforcement; interagency partnerships that target public safety and infrastructure issues in transitional neighborhoods; and homeownership incentives in the form of downpayment and closing-cost assistance targeted to buyers of previously vacant workforce housing. As of June 2013, Vacants to Value had created 350 workforce housing units, and another 175 are in the process of being rehabilitated. The program is an important example of how a city can partner with major employers and the development community to attract new homebuyers and revitalize some of its most distressed neighborhoods.
- Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Massachusetts—Comprehensive Policy Tools for Workforce Housing Development. Massachusetts is among the most competitive real estate markets in the United States. In response, the state has developed a proactive, comprehensive set of tools to increase affordability, including using comprehensive permitting applications to support workforce housing units in mixed-income projects. Together, these efforts have supported the creation of over 4,000 workforce housing units since 2007. In November 2012, Governor Deval Patrick announced a statewide goal of producing 10,000 multifamily units annually through 2020 under the state’s “Housing that Works” initiative. This goal seeks to communicate clearly to municipalities, developers, employers, and the public that Massachusetts is serious about increasing housing affordability for moderate-income households, particularly in locations near transit, town centers, and employment.
- Park City Municipal Corporation, Park City, Utah—Creating Workforce Housing Choices in a Resort Community. Park City is a resort community widely known for its world-class skiing and outdoor recreation, as well as international events such as the 2002 Winter Olympics and the annual Sundance Film Festival. The city has 7,558 permanent residents among a seasonal population of nearly 50,000. Aiming to reduce the burden on local businesses created by high seasonal job turnover, Park City has supported creation of workforce housing by providing financial incentives, including grants, land donation, and fee waivers. The city has coupled these efforts with an inclusionary housing ordinance, homebuyer assistance, and rental programs for municipal employees to create and maintain workforce housing opportunities and a more sustainable community. Today, there are 485 deed-restricted affordable housing units in Park City, amounting to 16 percent of year-round occupied housing stock. These units are 80 percent rental and 20 percent owner-occupied, serving households with earnings that range from 35 to 105 percent of AMI. One-third of these units are considered workforce housing, serving households with earning above 60 percent AMI.
For next year’s cycle, the ULI Terwilliger Center will expand the range of affordability for both awards programs. The expanding categories will allow for developments and public policies that create affordable and workforce housing opportunities for individuals and families earning up to120 percent of AMI. In addition, in the 2014 cycle, affordable housing developments using low-income housing tax credits will be eligible, and the national advisory board will emphasize developments and policies that support a mix of incomes.