Blog April 29, 2023

Affordable housing initiatives and innovations across the nation

As rents shatter records in the city and mortgage rates remain sky high, 5BORO is taking a look at some of the newest and most innovative affordable housing initiatives taking root in cities and counties across the country. There’s no silver bullet, but these approaches may inspire new ideas for NYC and build on existing efforts to keep our city livable for generations to come.

Newark, New Jersey: All-in-One Affordable Housing Website

Anyone accustomed to using StreetEasy to find an apartment will have an easy time navigating Newark’s new affordable housing website, where federally-funded projects, private market sites and Newark Housing Authority units are all in one digital location. Prospective tenants can search for homes using a range of fields, including rental costs, eligibility requirements and proximity to transport.

Napa Valley, California: First-in-the-Nation Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Loan Program

Accessory Dwelling Units are a small independent secondary home on a primary owner’s residential lot. They are a quick way to increase housing stock and have been growing in popularity. Through a public-private partnership, Napa will forgive construction loans for people who create ADUs if the owner rents the unit at below-market rates for five years to a low-income resident.

Seattle, Washington: A Path to Social Housing

A recently-approved ballot initiative in Seattle paves the way for social housing, a concept most commonly seen in other countries — not the U.S. The model is publicly-funded and available to both extremely low-income residents as well as people with moderate-to-high incomes. The aim is to create communities with residents from across the economic spectrum with rents capped at 30% of a tenant’s income.

Mobile, Alabama: Creating New Home Owners

The new Home Ownership Provides Equity (HoPE) program allows vouchers, traditionally used for rent, to be used as mortgage payments on single-family homes. The voucher pays for a city-backed mortgage set at a below-market rate. Once paid off, the voucher holder would own the house outright.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Public-Private Partnership with Dual Goals in Housing

The Philadelphia Accelerator Fund was established two years ago, but its first project recently launched. This public-private partnership is designed to increase affordable housing stock in Philadelphia and connect minority developers with the capital to build that has often been inaccessible due to systemic racial barriers.