Saving Affordable Housing

Got an Affordable Housing Crisis? Save the Cheap Housing You Already Have.

City Lab discusses a research brief by the Urban Institute, which provides examples of successful efforts to preserve multi-unit buildings with rents affordable to low-income residents.  Ensuring enough housing that is affordable to those with lower incomes is a multi-strategy approach, including making sure that existing units are maintained so they remain livable and making sure that there is enough housing for people of all income levels so that higher-income households aren't occupying the units that are affordable to lower income households.

In 2008, a fire tore through the Monseñor Romero Apartments in Washington D.C’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, displacing its residents. But soon after, these residents used a handy D.C. policy—the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act—to reclaim their burned-out homes. This act requires that building owners give tenants the right to purchase their properties before selling it to other buyers. The Monseñor Romero residents invested this right in two national housing nonprofits with the capacity to put together the funds, and those organizations were able buy the building on behalf of the tenants in 2010.
— Tanvi Misra, City Lab