The strata housing industry is developing more affordable housing, but the demand from renters is dropping.
We can blame two things for this trend in the affordable housing sector: housing costs and taxes.
First, is it a cop out for local government not to address rising costs? Are renters responsible for only their own mortgage and rent? The answer is no. Local governments need to understand that there is a direct correlation between increased housing costs and the reduction of housing choices.
Second, rising construction costs and high costs for land and infrastructure are the real reason that the demand for these affordable units is rapidly decreasing.
However, there is a silver lining. The change in the cost of the land, is leading developers to look for other factors to help price their units at an affordable level, while at the same time providing necessary amenities such as high-speed internet access and state-of-the-art amenities that most business people desire.
And, perhaps most important, by providing an affordable unit, developers hope to retain existing apartment owners and renters.
Strata housing companies are finding more affordable housing in neighborhoods near their facilities.
“Our maintenance staff and operations team have been spread far and wide to meet the need,” said Jeff Williams, Executive Director of Strata Innovations, a Chicago-based company that builds apartment complexes all over the country. “Because we have found so many solutions to work in our neighborhoods, we have a feeling we are saving them money on the first year’s contract.”
An affordable housing unit actually saves a developer money in the long run, often only adding one or two years of cash flow compared to projects with more expensive materials.
Strata Innovations is an example of an affordable housing innovator. The company has built in 13 states and it is working with 25 local communities in just the last six months. The company is now constructing 300 new units that they hope will be leased or sold within a year or so, in eight states. The average price of these homes is $140,000.
The Strata Innovations partnership with local communities has resulted in its work specifically increasing the number of affordable units and maintaining the quality of life in many of these neighborhoods that will benefit renters for generations to come.
We are on our way back from the housing crisis, but I believe we need to step up our efforts in the affordable housing sector. It is critical that residents, renters and businesses are not only able to afford homes, but also feel comfortable that they are being taken care of by a responsible company.
I am more hopeful than ever before that our government leaders will lead on affordable housing. There is a growing commitment to addressing rising home prices and to making housing affordable. Unfortunately, we may be moving backwards on the effort to educate the public on the need for affordable housing.
The time to wake up is now. We will no longer have a housing market that doesn’t have the potential to thrive.
We have gone from one generation to the next pushing the number of people out of the home market, now we are seeing a clear need to find a solution to shelter more people.
Louis Annehale, Chairman of Strata Innovations, recently spoke at an event hosted by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Development titled, “Housing Solutions: Building Strong Communities, One Housing Community at a Time.”
He spoke about the importance of the whole community in helping to support low-income families.
“Affordable housing is central to the economic progress of a community. It supports job creation by fostering career changes that develop with an increase in housing affordability,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who co-chairs the Strategic Partnering to Combat Poverty (SPP) Program, and underscored the many steps that need to be taken to address high rental prices, including increased school quality and increased income tax incentives.
Jacqueline Crockett is the Executive Director of the Community Alliance for Affordable Housing (CAAH) of Florida. CAAH has assisted 25 local communities with affordable housing and rental affordability since 1979. For more information on CAAH, visit www.saafl.org.