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Q&A: Affordable Housing, Development, and The Local Economy

Affordable housing is an issue that affects many renters nationwide. Rainbow Housing Assistance is a non-profit organization that offers service-enriched housing programs to those who need it. 

Connect Media’s Daniella Soloway spoke with Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation’s Executive Director Flynann Janisse to discuss various aspects of affordable housing, from municipal regulations to the effect on local economies.

Q. How are inclusionary housing mandates throughout the nation impacting the affordable housing stock?

A. The number of jurisdictions that have adopted inclusionary zoning policies has grown steadily, with a significant number of jurisdictions adopting programs in the last decade. The industry professionals who develop and preserve affordable housing are some of the savviest real estate professionals in the country.

Developers and investors are creatively financing new deals through partnerships and financing structures that allow for set aside percentages of affordable housing units. A balanced approach will create and preserve more affordable housing thus increasing the stock of affordable housing nationally. A focus on investing in human capital will be elevated to the extent it is necessary to stabilize the tenant base of emerging creative housing investments to meet the demand of city and state mandates.

Q. What types of service-enriched housing programs help stabilize mixed-income (affordable and market-rate) developments and effectively serve the needs of diverse populations?

A. Resident programs and services are best when tailored to each community’s demographic and geographic elements. Mixed-income communities are treated no different than affordable communities; at communities Rainbow serves, a needs assessment is done to determine what resources are needed to eliminate barriers to financial, emotional and intellectual health. The most advantageous programs are geared toward financial literacy and job readiness, allowing the benefit of this advancement to be realized by the individual and family, which, in turn, positively impacts the financial performance of the asset.

We see our greatest level of participation in youth education and enrichment for family communities because of the “free” resource designed to reduce or eliminate day care costs. Programs and services that enhance the concept of value based living environments create a sense of community aligning self-sufficiency programs and services to establish a financially stable resident population.

Q. How do service-enriched housing programs impact the local economy?

A. There has been, and continues to be, a large amount of research done around the development of service-enriched affordable housing and the economic impact. In most studies, it is evident the development and preservation of affordable housing yields an increase to spending and employment through direct and indirect job creation in the surrounding economy. The service-enriched housing model supports the stabilization of the tenant base.

With the provision of programs and services tailored to the demographic there are advancements in financial literacy, education, employment and the sustainability of affordable housing. Stable populations support the growth of businesses and educational institutes, reduce crime and improve healthy lifestyles which, in turn, reduce emergency services and those associated costs to the local economy.

For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Daniella Soloway


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