Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Affordable Housing and Habitat for Humanity

Dateline: 9:33 pm October 10, 2006 Filed under:

I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity on and off for over half of my life. I took annual work trips around the country with my church youth group in high school, was Vice President of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus chapter one year, and most recently, worked up the street from Jimmy Carter in Puebla, Mexico in 2004.

Needless to say, I was fascinated to learn more about Habitat’s Urban Programs, which, due to the complexity of working in urban areas, seeks alternatives to the single-family style of Habitat home that we all know. An article written by me about the Urban Programs and the efforts on the part of Habitat appeared in the March/April issue of Multifamily Trends, an Urban Land Institute publication. Read it here.

Habitat for Humanity Article

During the research for this article, Susan Haigh, President of the Twin Cities Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, explained that they like to tell people they don’t build affordable housing, they build market rate housing and keep it affordable through mortgage financing.

Although it didn’t make it in to the article, that quote stuck with me. I think it is important to consider that notion as we frame the affordable housing debate. Indeed, there need not be a white hot line between market rate and affordable housing, and that line will certainly become more blurred if Habitat and other affordable and for-profit housing developers increasingly partner on projects in our cities.

The affordable housing challenge is fascinating, and I look forward to continuing this discussion with many of you as time goes on. 

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