Home, land, house, apartment, condominium, whatever you choose to call it, is a category in the social contract wherein the person who owns it has an obligation to others to provide housing and to pay an obligation to the authority that gave the property to them, called Renting. Housing, in general, refers to the arrangement and assigned use of residential properties or homes collectively, for the intent of sheltering human beings from the weather, for the purpose of dwelling, private, individual, family or community. The concept of housing is most commonly associated with homes in metropolitan cities. The rapid growth of such cities as New York, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major cites in the U.S. is a clear illustration of the need for housing, and the corresponding housing costs. As urbanization and intensification continue to occur, and with the possibility of someday connecting large urban areas via a high-speed rail system, the function of housing may also expand into rural areas and suburbs.
Real estate agents can assist buyers in finding affordable housing, either in a newly constructed building or one that is currently available for lease. In many cases, local or national affordable housing groups may be able to help buyers find affordable housing by matching them with appropriately located rental units. In addition, low-income apartments and homes can be leased for periods of time rather than purchased, and generally, the longer a renter or homeowner remains in their housing, the less money they will need to pay in rent or mortgage payments.
There are a variety of options for housing in a metropolitan area. The development of supportive housing is an excellent way to create low-income units that would not otherwise be feasible for low-income families or individuals. For example, the federal government controls over 30 billion dollars in grant money for the development of supportive housing across the country. The availability of these funds depends on a number of factors including current and historical housing values and demographics, proximity to job markets, the quality of local public schools, and the zoning restrictions governing development within the metropolitan area.
Neighborhoods that are considered to be desirable for renters include those with moderate home prices, ample walkways, and convenient transportation. Metro areas have what is called “smart growth” – a design that increases the city’s overall living space and reduces the need for new construction. The planning council for some of the United States’ most populous metropolitan areas has created a zoning policy that includes some degree of inclusionary zoning, which means that developers who wish to include affordable housing in their developments must first obtain permission from the council. Zoning policies vary from city to city, and there are currently some municipalities that are working on comprehensive reformation plans.
For developers who are interested in building multi-unit buildings, there is another option that is becoming increasingly popular among developers and builders. This option is called “exclusionary zoning.” Exclusionary zoning is designed to restrict the development of certain types of housing units, such as affordable housing units and senior housing units, while still allowing for a certain amount of density. While these housing units may not be sold at higher prices, they are built to a lower standard than other multi-unit buildings, making them less expensive to maintain and allow for a higher level of flexibility.
Developments that include more affordable housing units are especially encouraged by this type of zoning. “Builders who build projects that help people get to work and away from home can expect to pay lower rates to city authorities,” said Robert Woodhead, an attorney with Green Street Consulting in San Francisco. “A healthy economy needs people to move into and out of homes. By providing incentives for people who choose to live in certain neighborhoods, we can encourage new investment in areas that will, in turn, create more jobs.” As cities around the country become more aware of the importance of housing development to their overall economies, it is clear that the time is ripe for investing in developments that will not only create a more stable environment for people to live in, but also one that is environmentally friendly and friendlier to the environment.