• Dennis Cogbill

MICA to Examine Innovations that Could Make Apartment Housing More Affordable

Housing affordability is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about social issues in the country.

According to a report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, nearly half – 47.4 percent – of renter households were cost burdened in 2017 (meaning they were spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent). In 1960, just 23.8 percent of households were spending 30 percent or more on rent. Almost 11 million households spend more than half of their income on rent, the report adds.

The data clearly shows the apartment industry needs to innovate to address the affordability crisis and to stave off the growing trend of rent control legislation. Fortunately, a number of innovative industry professionals are already on it.

A session at the upcoming Multifamily Innovation Conference – Atlanta (MICA) will shine the spotlight on several of their innovative solutions.

The “Transformative Solutions for Creating Housing Affordability” session, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, will explore several new ideas for making apartment homes more affordable for renters, including optimized land utilization, modular building and 3-D printing, equity building while renting and co-living.

These innovations can be put to use to make more apartment homes more affordable for more residents. And they’ll be substantially more effective than rent control, which has taken effect in several states around the country recently. New York, California and Oregon are some of the jurisdictions to implement such laws. In fact, instead of solving the affordability problem, rent control might actually make it worse.

In a blog post, National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) President Doug Bibby wrote, “The irony is rent control policies take stock out of play and stifle new development, ultimately hurting the very lower-income constituents they profess to help. These are the facts: rent control favors wealthier residents; produces exactly zero new affordable rental housing; raises overall rents in the community; and disproportionately hurts poorer renters by reducing the overall affordable rental stock.”

According to NMHC’s most recent quarterly survey of its members, 58 percent of respondents said they operate in areas that have either recently imposed rent control or are seriously considering doing so. Of those respondents, 34 percent said they have already cut back on investment or development, while another 49 percent said they are considering doing so in the near future.

Cutting back on investment and development due to rent control will reduce the supply of apartment homes, which will increase rents. Solutions such as co-living and cost-effective modular building, however, increase supply at a lower cost, which will decrease rents.

Register for MICA 2020 to learn more about these and other innovative solutions that could truly solve the affordability crisis, and how you might be able to help solve a social issue while increasing revenue.

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