How do we define affordable housing? And what measures are some cities taking to encourage more of it?
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has placed housing affordability on his agenda with a 10-year plan to preserve or add 200,000 affordable units to his city’s five boroughs. Seattle’s Housing Task Force, under Mayor Murray has drafted a plan to upzone some single family housing, making room for affordable and market rate units. San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee has proposed a $250 million bond measure that, if voted in, would allow for 30,000 affordable units over 4-5 years. In addition, Mayor Lee announced a new $500 million plan for affordable housing, part of an ambitious $2.7 billion plan to fund affordable housing over two decades in the city.
Eric Tao, President of the real estate development group AGI Avant in San Francisco, is co-chairing the campaign for the $250 million affordable housing bond measure. Partnering with the campaign co-chairs Gabriel Metalf of SPUR and Gail Gilman of the Community Housing Partnership, Eric and team are working to raise awareness for housing need at all levels of affordability. Eric describes why a plan for middle-income earners is so essential to the overall affordability puzzle.
Last week in Los Angeles, the A+D Museum opened the show Shelter: Rethinking the Way We Live in Los Angeles. Curators Sam Lubell and Danielle Rago describe the premise behind the show including the six architects invited to address residential housing as a response to a changing city…a new Los Angeles, facing expanding population, higher land costs, and fresh access to transit. The residential proposals hail from MAD Architects, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Bureau Spectacular and PAR.
We hear about a proposal for the Granny Flat by LA-Más as an affordable alternative that provides a bit of density and generated from resident-owned initiative. wHY proposes an alternative use of infrastructure along the Metro Purple Line, exploring preconceptions of ownership, funding and shared infrastructure.
We also discuss Michael Maltzan Architecture’s Star Apartments in the Skid Row neighbourhood, a transformation of a single-story commercial building into a mixed-use residential with 102 apartments for formerly homeless individuals. Nearby to this residence, the A+D museum has recently relocated downtown and Executive Director Tibbie Dunbar explains why.
Thomas Mullins, describes the history of public housing initiatives in New York as part of the exhibition he created called Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy. The exhibition traces public housing initiatives for those in need, placing current plans, drawings and models within a context of more than a century dedicated to offering affordable alternatives of some kind. Examples of the tale of affordable housing includes photographs of housing from 1958, such as the Wagner Houses in East Harlem, and a New York City Housing Authority exhibition at the New York World’s Fair in 1939-1940.
And finally, we speak with architect and writer Susanne Schindler about affordable housing initiatives and the role that architecture plays in fostering new models. Susanne’s research is focused on the intersection of policy and housing and she is part of a multi-year research project called House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate, an initiative that is exploring the link between architecture and real estate. Later this month, their work will be available in a report called The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing and Real Estate.
There’s another exhibition on affordable housing at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, reviewing an experimental period in the 1970s where architects, working with local communities in Portugal, developed housing projects. The SAAL Process: Housing in Portugal 1974-76 is up until October 4th.
A summary of exhibitions:
Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy – Sept 18 – Feb 7, 2016
Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles – Aug 26 – Nov 6, 2015
House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate – ongoing
The SAAL Process: Housing in Portugal 1974-1976 – at the Canadian Centre for Architecture through October 4th.