Affordable Housing Made Attractive

Hear Carol Howard, HCCP, Boston Capital explain the benefits of modern affordable housing.

Watch Carol Howard, HCCP, Boston Capital explain the benefits of modern affordable housing.

Did you know, according to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing?

A family with one full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.

In fact, affordable housing families are those who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing and therefore have difficulty obtaining necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

Many of these Americans are also burdened with the stigma affordable housing has traditionally held. In truth, today’s affordable housing projects strive not just to be housing–but homes that look like market-rate homes and with additional resources such as literacy programs, elderly assistance and computer rooms.

Triada Court at the Station, Santa Ana, Calif.

Triada Court at the Station, Santa Ana, Calif.

For example, Santa Ana, Calif.’s Triada Court at the Station is the 2013 Best in American Living Platinum Award winner for Affordable Home, Detached or Attached. Developed as desperately needed affordable housing for the area, the property includes a childcare facility, community kitchen and computer resource lab. Residents enjoy large, open courtyards, grand staircases and street-level plazas that encourage community interaction.

Also in Santa Ana, the Terraces at Santiago are a collaboration between public and private stakeholders to provide affordable rental homes within walking distance of urban transit. Using Spanish Colonial influences, the buildings reflect Santa Ana’s rich architectural heritage.

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Old Town Commons, Alexandria, Va.

Meanwhile Old Town Commons in Alexandria, Va. is another successful unity of public and private investments. The 50-year-old property began its rebirth in 2006 as more than 100 units that were uninhabitable due to flooding and other structural issues. There were also diverse issues and concerns to address among local residents—density, parking, open space and the like.

Today the five-city-block neighborhood is a vibrant new presence in the heart of popular Old Town Alexandria—yet the architecture blends seamlessly with Old Town’s historic rowhomes, and condos were designed as stacked apartments to be indistinguishable from the market-rate homes.

In other words, Old Town Commons, and other affordable communities like it, are proof that beautiful housing and amenities are possible, no matter a resident’s income.

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