Low-cost workforce housing is not a new problem. A 2019 national poll revealed that nearly 85% of Americans said national priority should be providing safe and affordable homes explains Maxwell Drever. Due to the housing crisis, only a few people can buy houses, and the rest live on rent. This problem is most prevalent among young age groups as affordability is a huge concern. However, the matter started receiving widespread attention only after the pandemic when social distancing and lockdown rules disrupted everything. Traditionally, new projects come to the expensive markets. But the dwindling numbers of buyers and increase in rental demands have changed the game. Cultural and demographic shifts are bringing focus to affordable workforce housing shortage.
The concept of affordable workforce housing supports the construction of low-cost multifamily homes, which help people to live close to their workplaces. Workforce housing and subsidized houses generally fall in the same area of focus, but they also have other subsidy options. The eligibility for a subsidy depends on a person’s salary and median income. Still, a family or individual may have to spend more than 30% of their earnings on this, while it should be much less to save some money. Maxwell Drever says that challenges are too many, but one must find solutions to overcome them.
The possible solutions for mitigating the affordable workforce housing issue
Common development challenges to better approach
Property market rates depend on the land, labor, and material costs. The construction cost of multifamily housing tends to be expensive. The cost of building a house from the foundation up doesn’t vary much because of the standardized rates. The prices unpredictably shoot up when starting from the foundation down. It is a more common issue with low-priced lands. Since the primary concern of any developer, designer, and architect remains the cost, one has to be thorough while selecting a site. Then, the lack of an adequate number of affordable workforce housing programs and subsidies is also a challenge.
If different types of loans and investments come in, the scenario would improve. Also, attracting private developers can be a good idea as they specialize in supplying better structures.
Community resistance to awareness
Maxwell Drever informs that communities resist incorporating affordable workforce housing in the neighborhood because they feel it can affect their property’s market rate. They worry about declining property values, overburdened schools, high traffic, and others caused by an increased population. For this, it is essential to pay attention to residents’ worries and provide them with proper solutions to address their fears.
One has to give them a clear picture of the diverse housing options in the sector. Another thing is to make them aware of the affordable workforce housing residents. Let them know that there could be a teacher or young professional in their family. That belongs to the affordable housing‘s demographics. Once they realize that this housing shortage is not only other’s problem but valid for their community also, they can take a broader approach.
Every society respects firefighters, police officers, and teachers. However, their initial salaries tend to be lower. Due to this they need financial help for a couple of years to settle down in life. Affordable workforce housing can come in handy in this.