Urban Avengers: Affordable Housing

How can we make housing more affordable?

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1) Bundle utility costs.

Bundling utility costs are usually restricted to a rental property, such as high-volume-unit apartment buildings in metropolitan areas which are turning to utility bundling to attract tenants. In bundling, there is one fixed price for certain utilities (usually water, sewage, trash) and then the price for remaining utilities such as electric or gas (usually just electric) is based on usage, but is combined with the amount of the fixed price utilities and paid by tenant directly to the rental property as one amount rather than paying all utility companies separately. By bundling utility costs the separate bills are less daunting and usually much more cost effective. This makes it easier for the person who pays the bills to take care of this task, saving both time and money.

2) Encourage developers to build more affordable units in exchange for permission to build bigger buildings.

Larger buildings allow for more units, the more units in a building, the lower the costs and the more space the developers can sell. The residents share the costs of building materials and space equally. There is not the same outside space as a single-family home that requires it’s own costs to maintain. If the affordable housing is mixed use, including poor and middle class residents it will create a safer culture and allow the building to thrive, keeping prices low for the occupants.

3) Education/advising from community agencies regarding home ownership and the buying process.

Communities need to offer more free housing education services accessible to people who are new to home buying, people in low-income neighborhoods, and in neighborhoods where home rejuvenation is occurring and/or desired. This service could be provided by community agencies and/or community centers. Many times parents of potential residents living in these areas may not have ever owned a home or discussed with their children all aspects of home ownership. Because this knowledge was never handed down, there is a lack of knowledge for many in the new generations of home buyers to know the process of home buying/ownership experience. If people do not understand the process and long term results or consequences when purchasing a home, it can have catastrophic effects on the homebuyer and the neighborhood. Equally, there are many benefits to owning a home (tax breaks, investment strategies, etc.) that often are not taken advantage of by new homeowners simply for lack of knowledge.

 

We believe that out of our three ideas educating people is the best option. This initiative will create an everlasting impact on the people it educates and their children. Given this knowledge, people can make informed decisions about housing, which will lead to better quality of life, better neighborhoods and greater opportunities for success.

 

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