Navigating the Unknown

Advancing Affordable Housing in Challenging Times

August 18, 2020

In a year full of shifts, the real estate industry has seen its fair share, especially in the affordable housing market. With the COVID-19 crisis, mass unemployment, business shutdowns, and diversion of government spending, systemic inequities are expanding the social and economic gap and the need for housing stability has become even more apparent. This is a time of uncertainty and the focus on affordable housing solutions is more important than ever. While this crisis has enflamed an already growing need, there are opportunities to bring to the forefront the role affordable housing can have as a driver of economic recovery and in addressing economic and social inequities.

“Right now, we’re navigating a maze of unknowns, and we don’t know exactly what our economy, much less our cities, will look like in the future,” explains David Quart, VHB’s Northeast Regional Real Estate Market Leader. “In addressing the economic challenges we face, we continue to work with our clients and cities to keep affordable housing development moving forward, helping those families who need it more than ever before.”

Affordable housing can be a catalyst that drives positive change in communities. In addition to creating safe, affordable homes for those in need, it can lead to opportunities for job creation and economic benefits for people at all income levels, while also building new neighborhood amenities, services, and educational and recreational spaces. These developments can open the door for new projects that:

  • Afford opportunities for job creation
  • Increase participation of M/WBE firms providing professional services
  • Advance socio-economic equity in neighborhoods that lack housing and services

“Myths about affordable housing development are still out there,” says Quart. “We recognize the positive impacts affordable housing can have on communities and the importance of finding balance between the public good and financial feasibility. At VHB, we are passionate about improving our communities and neighborhoods while helping our clients navigate the unknowns of the future.”

A clear vision and understanding of the impacts of affordable housing is important but equally important is recognizing the possible challenges to developing solutions and a viable path forward. The ability to navigate often complex review processes, engaging communities and garnering input from diverse audiences, and understanding goals from both the public and private perspectives are key to moving projects forward. Engaging with agencies, designers, developers, and community stakeholders with an eye on the long-term vision for the neighborhood and surrounding communities is crucial for these projects to be successful.

Our goal is to help move development forward. During these unpredictable times, creating a clear plan that incorporates the many diverse factors that impact outcomes is more important than ever. Through our experience working in both urban and suburban geographies for public and private clients, we bring a 360-degree perspective in understanding the impacts that drive change. Drawing on our experience navigating the complex review and approvals processes and the strong relationships we have throughout the New York metropolitan area, we can help clients new to the affordable housing market or new to certain geographies navigate specific local requirements. VHB is committed to working with city agencies and stakeholders, developers, and community groups to find strategic solutions for affordable housing development that will strengthen neighborhoods and enhance economic resiliency as we face the challenges to come.

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David Quart, AICP

David Quart, AICP

Regional Real Estate Market Leader

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