News & Event
Position Title: Director of Coordinated Housing Placement
Supervised By: Executive Director
Position Type: Full Time; Exempt
The Director of Coordinated Housing Placement is responsible for coordinating, monitoring, and overseeing key elements of the Continuum of Care's (CoC) Coordinated Entry process to house veterans, families, and individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Work will be supported and informed by the Homeless Management Information System, (HMIS), which is administered by the Coalition.
Coordinated Entry is a data-driven concept widely accepted as best practice in homeless assistance systems to achieve three goals:
Primary to the work will be operationalizing the CoC Placement Committees: Veteran, Chronic Homelessness, and Youth and Family placement, bringing together homeless service and housing providers as well as community partners. The goals of these committees are: to place individuals and families in housing; and, identify barriers to placement in housing for resolution at the policy (administrative/legislative) and inter-agency collaboration/cooperation levels.
In addition to placement committee facilitation, the Director of Coordinated Housing Placement convenes. facilitates. and advises systems and policy improvements through other forums and coordinating committees designed to achieve the goals set out above.
Responsibilities and Accountabilities:
Housing Placement Committees
Manage Continuum of Care's By Name Lists for Veterans, Families, and People experiencing Chronic Homelessness
Continuum of Care Support
Other Duties as Assigned
This position is grant funded and continuation of the position is contingent upon the continued availability of funding.
To Apply: Email resume, cover letter and list of at least three professional references with "Director of Coordinated Housing Placement" in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00 pm Wednesday, December 13th.
Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless is an equal opportunity employer.
Hiring Salary Range: $55,000 - $60,000
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
2200 Southwood Drive, Nashua, NH
We invite you to be a part of the second New England Lead Conference taking place on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 in Nashua, NH. Hosted by the New England Lead Coordinating Committee, the conference will include a variety of educational sessions focusing on lead prevention, policy, model programs, outreach, the EPA’s Renovation, Remodeling and Repair Rule (RRP), lead abatement, compliance, and the economics of lead poisoning.
Read more >
October 4, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
The Narragansett Times: Dziobek steps down as Welcome House director
By KENDRA GRAVELLE Sep 29, 2017
SOUTH KINGSTOWN—When Joseph Dziobek accepted the position of executive director of Welcome House of South County nearly three years ago, he had expected the job would make for a simple transition into retirement.
But what was intended as a part-time gig turned into much more than that for Dziobek, who this week left his post.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Dziobek, whose last day on the job was Monday. “And it’s been very satisfying—I feel very close to the people who have been a part of it.”
Dziobek, 66, took the job at Welcome House after retiring from his career as CEO of Fellowship Health Resources. He said he intended only to stay for two or three years.
October 4, 2017 in Local Interest
Final Days to Register: 2017 Housing Fact Book Release
Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Luncheon: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Location: Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin Street, Providence RI
October 3, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
Rhode Island College: The Defamation Experience
Monday, October 30, 2017
5:00PM - Doors Open
6:00PM - Performance
SPONSORED BY: THE DIVISION OF COMMUNITY EQUITY AND DIVERSITY AND THE DIVISION OF STUDENT SUCCESS
THE PLAY * THE DELIBERATION * THE DISCUSSION
September 27, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
NLIHC: Sign Letters to Support Equitable Housing Recovery after Devastating Hurricanes
Help ensure that low income people and neighborhoods are treated fairly after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. A broad coalition of national, state, and local organizations is calling on Congress, FEMA, and HUD to ensure that the federal response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria is complete and equitable for everyone, especially families and individuals with the lowest incomes who are often the hardest hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover afterwards.
September 27, 2017 in Local Interest, National News
Roger Williams University: Social Justice Month Events
Thursday, Oct 19
Mary Tefft White Center
How Housing Works
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Sponsored by Housing Works RI and RWU Chief Diversity Officer
Keywords: socioeconomic status, race, jobs, housing, equity
Workshop with Brenda Clement, Director of Housing Works Rhode Island and Ame Lambert, RWU Chief Diversity Officer.
An overview of housing issues in Rhode Island and connections to the larger social justice agenda.
September 25, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: People on the move for the week of Sept. 17
Posted Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Rhode Island LISC
Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corportation has welcomed two new employees. Jeremiah O’Grady, of Lincoln, joined LISC as program officer after spending more than 12 years at ONE Neighborhood Builders as real estate project manager and director of asset management and operations.
Liz Klinkenberg, of Warwick, was hired as communications director. She brings more than 15 years of public relations experience to her new position, including work for The Miami Herald and The Providence Journal.
The Providence American: Reed Announces $300k in Community Development Grants for NeighborWorks Affiliates
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to promote healthy, vibrant neighborhoods across Rhode Island, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced an additional $300,000 in federal funding for three Rhode Island-based affiliates of NeighborWorks America (NeighborWorks). These federal funds will help NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, and West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation to provide affordable housing opportunities, generate job growth, and enhance economic stability for working families. Earlier this year, Senator Reed also helped to secure over $750,000 in federal funding for NeighborWorks affiliates in Rhode Island, bringing total NeighborWorks investment in the state to above $1 million for fiscal year 2017.
September 21, 2017 in Federal News, Local Interest
The Providence American: Providence Unveils PVD Gives Donation Station
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined members of the City Council, public safety officials, and community leaders who have been named to the PVD Gives commission for the unveiling of the City’s first Donation Station at Kennedy Plaza. The retrofitted parking meter is one of ten stations that will be installed across the city to collect funds that will support local organizations that provide housing and services to those in need.
“PVD Gives and the new Donation Stations make it easier to give back,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Our collective generosity can make all the difference in the lives of those striving to get back on their feet. I encourage visitors and residents to chip in and be part of the solution.”
September 21, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: Report: New England losing 65 acres of forestland per day
By Steve LeBlanc / Associated Press
Posted Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
BOSTON — New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day — a loss that comes at a time when public funding for preservation of open land, both state and federal, has also been on the decline in all six states.
That’s the conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University.
The study found public funding for land conservation in New England dropped by half between 2008 and 2014 to $62 million per year, slightly lower than 2004 levels.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2018
CONTACT: Chip Unruh, (202) 224-4642
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who led the effort to establish the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) and who is a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, issued the following statement:
NLIHC and a group of other leading national organizations seeks a campaign director to lead the building and implementation of a new, long-term multi-sector campaign that will address the housing needs of the nation’s most vulnerable households.
Background: After a year-long planning process and with the input from education, health, children’s, anti-poverty, faith-based, and civil rights organizations, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Make Room, and Children’s Health Watch have initiated a dynamic, long-term, multisector Campaign to meet the housing needs of the lowest-income people.
This is a critical moment in federal housing policy. Support for addressing rental affordability has gained momentum over the past several years. Potentially powerful new constituencies -- in the health care, education, veterans, aging, child welfare, child poverty, faith, and other communities -- are recognizing the impact the inability to afford decent housing has on the wellbeing of the people they serve. At the same time, there are unprecedented threats to federal housing assistance.
In the face of these opportunities and challenges, multi-sector advocates have come together to launch a long-term Campaign to address the entrenched shortage of housing affordable for the lowest income people. Together, strengthened and expanded coalitions nationally and in priority states will pursue a coordinated strategy to educate policymakers, the media, and the public about the problem and its practical solutions and the impact the solutions will have on the quality of life not only of low-income people, but of the country more broadly.
The Campaign will be a long-term, multi-faceted effort to create a new national multisector coalition that works closely with strengthened state-based organizations to impact federal policy. It will deploy policy analysis and development, communications, and informing to impact opinion leaders and policymakers. It will be staffed and operated out of NLIHC. The Campaign’s steering committee will represent education, civil rights, anti-poverty, children’s issues, faith based, disability, seniors, veterans, city/state government associations and veterans, and resident leaders, among others. The goals of the Campaign will be to:
1. Fill the gap between rents and incomes for the most vulnerable households through a variety of rental assistance strategies that include rental subsidies to landlords and tax credits.
2. Prevent destabilizing housing crises through the creation of flexible short-term tools for low-income homeowners and renters for whom short-term crises like the loss of a job or a health emergency can jeopardize housing stability.
3. Create more housing affordable to the lowest income people through deeply income-targeted production programs such as the national Housing Trust Fund.
4. Defend against funding cuts and harmful policy changes in existing low-income housing programs.
Job Description: The Campaign director will have a leadership role in building a long-term national, multi-sector Campaign to meet the rental housing needs of the nation’s most vulnerable households. The director will work closely with the Campaign’s five principal partners and Steering Committee members to create a robust national movement around the Campaign’s goals and plan. With the principals and the Steering committee, the director will create a national Campaign structure, reach out to potential partners, develop and implement communications strategies, coordinate state grantee partners, undertake national policy informing efforts, coordinate events, and act as a principal spokesperson. In addition, the director will administer the Campaign, supervise Campaign staff, coordinate the work of the principal partners, and lead fundraising efforts (with strong support of the principal partners). The Campaign director will be a national voice for affordable housing for the most vulnerable people and a leader capable of developing and sustaining a national movement.
Responsibilities: The Campaign director will provide day-to-day direction and oversight of the Campaign, including the following responsibilities.
· Coordinate and oversee the work of the Campaign staff;
· Help to build and maintain a cooperative, productive coalition structure, including close coordination with the Campaign’s partners, the Steering Committee, and a larger network of cooperating organizations;
· Refine and carry out the Campaign plan in coordination with the Campaign’s partners;
· Develop creative and effective communications and policy Campaign plans and take oversight responsibility for implementing those plans;
· Ensure the effective integration of a state-based Campaign infrastructure into national efforts;
· Ensure effective partner sub-grants management: ensure sub-grantees are carrying out the terms of their grants and are effectively and appropriately using the grants provided to achieve intended deliverables and outcomes;
· Assist in, and provide strategic guidance for, ongoing fundraising efforts (including the development of proposals) that enable the Campaign to grow;
· Provide periodic reports to the Campaign’s partners, Steering Committee members, and relevant others about the Campaign’s progress, including comprehensive donor reports;
· Engage in public speaking in support of the Campaign and represent the Campaign with the media, as needed;
· Manage the Campaign’s budget and expenditures; and
· Other duties as assigned.
· A bachelor’s degree in a pertinent field, advanced degree preferred;
· A minimum of five years previous experience leading, or playing a critical role in, one or more campaigns;
· Proven experience building or leading a large, diverse coalition of cooperating organizations;
· Significant experience in building partnerships between organizations with different substantive priorities;
· Substantial experience developing and implementing integrated strategies involving coalition-building, grassroots infrastructure deployment, creative communications, and political mobilization;
· A demonstrated capacity as a strategic thinker as well as a creative formulator of ongoing tactics pursuant to an overall strategy;
· An effective communicator, both orally and in writing;
· Experience in leading, or significantly assisting in, philanthropic fundraising;
· Previous experience harmonizing substantive ideals with the practical pursuit of achievable, incremental opportunities; and
· An ability to work in a diverse, high-speed environment.
Compensation and Benefits: An equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, NLIHC offers a competitive salary and benefits package. This is a full-time position located in Washington, DC. It is a contract position with the possibility of extension.
Status: Full-time (exempt) contract position
Reports to: President and CEO of NLIHC
Job Application Process: Candidates for the Campaign director position should send a cover letter, resume, and two writing samples to: Paul Kealey, Chief Operating Officer, NLIHC, 1000 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20005 at email@example.com. The cover letter should describe the candidate’s interest in, and relevant experiences for, the position, and it should include salary requirements and the names and contact information for at least three people serving as candidate references. (NLIHC will not contact references before consulting with the candidate.)
Housing advocates in Rhode Island representing a wide coalition of housing groups including community development corporations (CDCS); public housing authorities (PHAs); homeless shelter providers and advocates issued the following statement on the tax bills passed by the House of Representatives and Senate Finance last week:
“Rhode Island already has an affordable housing crisis, but the tax bills recently passed by the US House of Representatives and under consideration in the Senate would make it a catastrophe. Without the federal tax credits and bonds that these bills weaken or eliminate, tens of thousands of affordable homes will not be built, and tens of thousands of families will be left homeless across our state and country.” said Brenda Clement, Director of HousingWorks RI. “The programs impacted by these bills are critically important affordable housing development and preservation tools, particularly in Rhode Island. We need Congress to protect these vital programs and to invest in the affordable housing resources that we rely on to meet the urgent housing needs of Rhode Islanders.” noted Melina Lodge, Executive Director of Housing Network of RI. “If a tax bill like this becomes law, it will impede our ability to create new affordable housing for years to come and will exacerbate homelessness in Rhode Island resulting in more families out on the streets irreparably harming our communities. ” said Bert Cooper, Interim Administrator of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. “This legislation would increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion which will put immense pressure on lawmakers to make massive cuts to programs that benefit low-moderate income people including federal housing programs.” noted Michael Lyckland, President of the Public Housing Association of Rhode Island.
The House tax proposal:
· Significantly weakens the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, a successful public-private partnership that has become the foundation for affordable housing development across New England and the nation. While the credit itself is retained, it would be significantly weakened due to the corporate tax rate being significantly lowered. With less of a need for tax credits, the value of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit would drop, greatly reducing investments in low income housing by private companies. If not addressed, over the next five years, this will result in the loss of more than $35 million that could have been used to develop or preserve 400 homes for Rhode Island families.
· Eliminates the tax exemption on Private Activity Bonds, including multifamily housing bonds. This tax exemption allows bond-financed multifamily projects to access ‘4% Housing Credits,’ which have helped produce or preserve tens of thousands of affordable homes in New England. Developments financed with 4% credits often serve households with extremely low incomes, and these credits have also been used on mixed-income developments, helping to meet overall demand for market rate housing while providing rents that households with lower incomes can afford. Tax-exempt bonds are also used for reduced interest mortgages for first time homebuyers. Rhode Island currently utilizes 4% housing credits with tax exempt bond financing to preserve about 400 units every year. In addition to preserving our stock of affordable homes, that investment results in $6 million annually in construction activity, supporting 135 construction jobs.
· Eliminates the New Markets Tax Credit, a vital resource for community revitalization efforts in distressed areas. In Rhode Island, recent projects supported by the New Markets Tax Credit include Amos House, the Boys & Girls Club in Pawtucket and the Institute for Nonviolence. Housing. Between 2003 and 2015, $412.4 million in NMTC allocation leveraged an additional $405.7 million from other sources for a total of $818.1 million in project investments to 62 Rhode Island businesses and revitalization efforts, creating 8,720 jobs.
· Eliminates the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which has had a great impact in Rhode Island attracting developers to invest in once vacant, deteriorated, and underutilized structures, such as old mills, schools, and hospitals, and transforms them into much needed housing and commercial space. Hundreds of historic and iconic buildings in Rhode Island have been returned to use, creating homes resulting in tens of millions in new local tax revenues. Based on Grow Smart RI's analysis of data from the US. Census Bureau and a 2017 Rutgers University report, Rhode Island ranks first in the country on a per capita basis for its volume of recent historic rehab expenditures associated with the federal credit.
· Reforms the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which has been a long-standing effort of housing advocates and would ordinarily be a major step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the tax proposal uses the resulting savings to pay for tax cuts, not to fund new investments in affordable housing.
· Increases the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion, putting immense pressure on lawmakers in future years to make massive cuts to programs benefiting low- and moderate-income people, include federal housing programs.
HousingWorks RI at RWU is a clearinghouse of information about housing in Rhode Island. We conduct research and analyze data to inform public policy and promote dialogue about the relationship between housing and the state’s economic future and our residents’ well-being.
Public Housing Association of Rhode Island (PHARI) is an association of twenty-five public housing authorities throughout the state dedicated to providing safe, affordable and decent housing.
The Housing Network of Rhode Island is the state association of non-profit community development corporations. Our members have developed and build thousands of units of affordable housing throughout the state and initiated numerous revitalization efforts in neighborhoods across Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless is organized to promote and preserve the dignity and quality of life for men, women, and children by pursuing comprehensive and cooperative solutions to the problems of housing and homelessness.
PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Housing Board of Commissioners approved $837,000 in 2018 low-income housing tax credits for the Georgiaville Village Green housing development in Smithfield, the agency announced Thursday.
The development will include 42 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and is expected to cost $11 million.
Housing also approved a first mortgage of $190,000 and a second mortgage of $379,000.
Gemini Housing Corp. and Coventry Housing Associates Corp. are the developers of the project.
The site was formerly the Narragansett Gray Iron Foundry mill site. The mill was demolished by the previous owner and qualified as a brownfield site. The developers have already begun remediation of the project.
“Housing is the foundation of a strong economy and essential for healthy communities to thrive,” said Barbara Fields, executive director of RIH. “Restoring this area will improve public health, protect the environment, and support our continuing efforts to increase the local supply of housing – as well as put Rhode Islanders to work.”
The development will include three one-bedroom apartments, 21 two-bedroom apartments and 18 three-bedroom apartments in nine buildings.
The housing will be available to individuals and families earning less than 60 percent of the area median income, or $43,260 for a family of four. Five of the units will be reserved for individuals and families earning less than 30 percent of the area median income, or $24,600 for a family of four.
Other funding for the development includes:
- $7,952,000 in private equity from the sale of 9 percent LIHTC bonds
- $906,000 in Acquisition and Rehabilitation Program funds
- $750,000 loan from the Thresholds Program
- $650,000 federal grant from the Community Development Block
- $200,000 grant from the R.I. Department of Energy Management
- $62,000 grant from the Smithfield Housing Trust
- $15,000 grant from Housing Ministries
Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.
Courtesy of Providence Business News
For cities starved of new housing, staring down an affordability crisis, and desperate for density, the opportunity to inexpensively add housing units seems to good to be true. But that’s the promise made by proponents of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs: small structures, typically totaling under 1,000 square feet, built on the property of existing homeowners.
“There’s lots of free land out there,” says Ira Belgrade, who has become an advocate and consultant for ADU construction in Los Angeles and runs the site YimbyLA. “And it’s in people’s backyards. But people have this mindset of ‘not in my backyard, or my neighbor’s backyard, or even my block.’”
One of the few housing types that’s primarily completed and developed by amateurs—and, until recently, often constructed off the books—ADUs, small backyard housing units also known as granny flats, have seen a recent boom. The affordable housing shortage has spurred increased advocacy for ADUs, especially in California, where detached single-family homes make up 56.4 percent of the overall housing stock. Recent legislation in the state created a sharp rise in their construction. In Los Angeles, the number of applications for ADU construction rose from 80 in 2016 to 1,980 through November 1, 2017.
“People have this mindset of ‘not in my backyard, or my neighbor’s backyard, or even my block.’”
“The affordable housing crisis across the U.S. is going to propel the movement forward,” says Kol Peterson, a Portland-based ADU expert and author of a new book, Backdoor Revolution, a guide to ADU development.
Despite being small-scale structures built on private property, ADUs are big enough to become embroiled in red tape, as well as existing debates about densification, neighborhood character, NIMBYism, and addressing homelessness.
Dan Bertolet, a senior researcher at the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based think tank, points to efforts to reform building codes to allow for more ADU construction in his hometown. While there’s support for the measure, a coalition of wealthy homeowners from the Queen Anne neighborhood were able to force an environmental review of proposed statutes and delay implementation.
“Slowly and surely, more cities are adopting ADUs, more will be built, and we’ll realize armageddon isn’t going to happen,” Bertolet says. “The politics are moving in the right direction. But this is a period of growing pains. That we can’t even do the gentlest, least intrusive kind of density change in a city suffering from a huge housing shortage is kind of mind-blowing.”
To understand some of the pushback against ADU construction, especially in California, just look at the trials of Sen. Bob Wieckowski. A representative from Fremont and the East Bay Area, Wieckowski has been a long-time advocate for ADUs, having already sponsored two successful pieces of state legislation, including the bill that went into effect at the beginning of 2017 and jump-started ADU construction by removing city-level ordinances.
In his previous role on the Fremont city council, Wieckowski was shocked when he discovered the various hoops homeowners had to jump through to build second units on their property, and pushed to simplify and streamline the process. Like other proponents of ADUs, he believes they’re part of the solution to the problem of rising rents. Adding a backyard unit creates new housing, and can help a family give their grandmother a place to stay, or offer a new couple an affordable place to get started. The state should be in the business of incentivizing affordable housing construction, he argues.
“The power should go to the homeowner, not the government, if they want to help with the housing crisis,” he says. “We should let them chip in.”
But, as Wieckowski has seen, local government, and especially local homeowners, are loath to give up control of zoning and construction. After two previous bills he proposed helped streamline ADU construction, another roadblock presented itself: local impact fees, which can range from $5,000 to $60,000, according to a study by the UC Berkeley Terner Center of Housing Innovation. Municipalities and local governments can levy impact fees on new construction, adding tens of thousands of dollars of additional fees to the cost of a small backyard apartment. A homeowner building a granny flat in his backyard and his neighbor constructing a McMansion on an empty lot may be charged the same amount in impact fees, according to Wieckowski.
“The power should go to the homeowner, not the government, if they want to help with the housing crisis. We should let them chip in.”
Wieckowski’s new bill, SB 831, which he hopes can get a vote from the legislature later this spring, would cut impact fees, as well as grant amnesty to ADUs built over the last few decades that are off the books, and deem ADU applications to be automatically approved if local agencies don’t make a ruling within 120 days. That should make it cheaper to build new units, and easier to add older units to the tax rolls. He sees it as round three in a skirmish between those that want to build, and local governments trying to restrict this type of new construction.
“You’re not listening to your citizens and what they want to do,” he says. “In my mind, this is round three. I’ve given you two chances to get rid of these obnoxious, restrictive ordinances that aren’t helping the state of California. We’re in a crisis. You’re not coming up with any ideas, so here’s an an idea.”
So far, ADU construction has been concentrated on the West Coast, in cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles. But for a true model of how widespread adoption of these structures can impact a housing market, look further north.
Vancouver has faced the same skyrocketing real estate prices that have transformed cities up and down the Pacific coast. Facing a similar affordability shortage, the city passed an ordinance in 2009 legalizing ADUs, often referred to as laneway houses in Canada. The citywide bylaws immediately made 65,000 lots eligible for such construction when they went into effect at the beginning of 2010. Now, there’s a cottage industry constructing these units, more than 2,000 have been built, and a local preservation group even hosts a laneway tour.
Other cities have passed ADU ordinances, but Vancouver’s was different. Its all-encompassing legislation wasn’t set up in a patchwork fashion. Owners didn’t have to deal with impact fees, parking requirements, or owner occupancy laws, all tools used by U.S. municipalities to restrict this type of construction. The result has been the construction of thousands of new units, and a robust market for laneway homes.
Designer Bryn Davidson is principal at Lanefab Design/Build, a local firm that specializes in these smaller structures, and built one of the first such structures post-legislation in 2010. He says Vancouver has created a true market for this type of construction by eliminating onerous regulations. Lanefab itself has built more than 70 such structures, and even had a design feature in the New York Times.
Vancouver’s example is important not because the city and its citizens are somehow immune to pushback from property owners afraid of density and new rental units. Vancouver faced debates about the same sort of issues found in LA or San Francisco, says Davidson, with homeowners afraid ADUs would destroy the fabric of their neighborhoods. But after powering through protests, he says, complaints have dropped off, and laneway homes are now accepted as part of the city.
“Our cities are all in trouble since we’ve given single-family homeowners so much power over land use, and a discretionary veto over housing,” he says. “We’ve all done that for so long.”
Vancouver’s example is often held up by advocates in the U.S. as a symbol of what could be accomplished with the right rules and regulations. Davidson’s experience as a builder, however, shows there may be some limits.
While there’s no argument that ADUs/laneway houses provide an avenue for adding new units to a city’s housing stock, they’re not necessarily the easiest way to add affordable apartments. According to Davidson and others, there hasn’t been any citywide study addressing the overall impact of the ADU law on Vancouver housing prices. But Davidson says that from personal experience, ADUs are much more expensive than many may imagine. And, Vancouver’s comparatively high real estate prices make this kind of construction much more financially sound than it would be in cheaper markets.
“Laneway units are pretty expensive on a per-square-foot basis,” he says. “Think about it; they’re some of the nicest rental units in the city, with nobody above or below you, and great outdoor space. It’s no surprise they rent for a pretty good price.”
“Once homeowners appreciate this can be a tool for so many things, that’s when you go from NIMBY to YIMBY.”
This squares with Peterson’s experience examining ADU programs across the country. While some pilots in cities like Austin have produced a handful of additional affordable units, the reality is that ADU construction isn’t necessarily fast or cheap even in the best conditions, he says, or easily scalable. These structures provide “lowercase-A affordable housing, not capital-A affordable housing,” Peterson says. But the market is incredibly big, and poised to grow rapidly in California cities like LA, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Oakland.
Davidson estimates that most of the laneway units he’s built, measuring roughly 700 to 1,000 square feet with 1.5 baths, are for young couples looking to build on their parent’s property. That’s the scenario he finds makes the most sense financially, building housing for extended family, often much cheaper than building a new condo. It’s not the solution to every situation, but as far as creating new housing for extended family, or a rental unit for passive income, it’s a huge advantage.
“Once homeowners appreciate this can be a tool for so many things, that’s when you go from NIMBY to YIMBY,” he says.
A grassroots housing solution
ADUs may not be the perfect solution to our multifaceted housing crisis, and there aren’t great statistics on usage. But, as a grassroots housing solution, they can be an important tool to help increase density and reduce sprawl.
In Los Angeles, city officials see ADUs as a potentially valuable supply of new housing. As part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s ambitious goal of adding 100,000 new units by 2021, this kind of backyard construction, which can be sprinkled across different neighborhoods one unit at a time, offers targeted assistance to demographics in search of affordable homes. According to research by the Terner Center, these units can offer cost-effective affordable housing on a small scale. The average cost of an ADU in California was $156,000, while the average cost of affordable units statewide was $332,000, and even higher in cities like San Francisco ($591,000 per unit) and Los Angeles ($372,000).
Seniors, students, older homeowners looking for passive income, immigrant families, and others can benefit from this type of stealth infill. A current ordinance to lower fees to make it easier to construct ADUs in Los Angeles is pending, and a pilot program to encourage ADU construction to provide housing for the formerly homeless or recipients of Section 8 housing assistance, offering up to $75,000 in funding per ADU, was approved in August.
With Wieckowski‘s proposed law facing a vote, and other advocates pushing for more ADUs, there’s momentum behind expansion. Density, no matter how small, will always bring more debate. But now that some of the red tape holding back ADUs is beginning to fall away, U.S. cities may begin to see this as a viable avenue to add housing.
Courtesy of Curbed
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