Housing for low-income people is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Constructing affordable housing is facing tall barriers from all fronts: from the government, the people, and even those for whom the housing was intended.
However, faced with these challenges, ENM Construction Management has been at the forefront of transcending these barriers and providing affordable homes for people. Partnering with passionate NGOs like Habitat for Humanity, the organization has been creating new and innovative ways of breaking through barriers to social housing. At the helm is project manager Daniel “Dan” Greenhalgh, spearheading a partnership that has promised to bring over 114,000 new affordable homes over a period of ten years.
Barriers Preventing Construction of Affordable Housing
To truly appreciate the odds Dan Greenhalgh and ENM Construction Management are trying to beat, we must first understand the barriers preventing affordable housing from becoming a reality.
- Land Use Regulations
Land use regulations can be a dual-edged sword; they can either promote or prevent affordable housing constructions. Restrictions on density, lot size, height, street width, parking requirements, and others, gravely affect the cost of land in an area. The higher land cost will lessen the probability of establishing budget housing in an area, if not kill it.
- Non-permitting Permits
According to Lynn Ross, executive director of Terwilliger Center for Housing, the permitting process in some cities add up to the constrictions on budget housing. While some cities have already addressed and fixed issues regarding their issuance of permits, still others are very problematic. Most other processes lack clarity, which adds to the processing time, which in turn drives costs.
- Planning and Design
If only people with site-specific details on land development are more concerned to establishing compact, efficient, and affordable dwellings, rather than high-end, sprawling, living areas catering to the upper class, then more affordable living spaces can be established. Also, design that is hampered by regulations and requirements can also be problematic. For example, homes have an arbitrary minimum size. However, some households are able and are willing to live in spaces smaller than the minimum requirement. Had only this been allowed, more homes can be established because of the lower initial cost of construction.
Like all projects, affordable housing is bounded by a budget, and looking for funding to fill out said budget is one of the most difficult (if not the most difficult) challenges. Several sources of high costs of housing include:
- rising costs of land;
- rising costs of housing construction;
- rising costs of insurance;
- tax credits;
- building codes; and
- impact and permitting fees, among others.
NIMBY or the Not in My Backyard mentality and other discriminatory outlooks are detrimental to affordable housing. Mixing upper-class with lower-income dwellers has garnered a few raised eyebrows and has been a cause of fear toward the lower-income residents. Not only is this an issue of race but also of religion and culture as well.
Dan Greenhalgh, along with ENM, is spearheading future projects to break these oppressive barriers to just and affordable housing for everyone. Look forward to more barriers transcended!