A real estate developer wanted to increase affordable housing in Denver, trying to make fiscal sense out of a plan to build rental apartments for people making only 30 percent of the area's median income—the kind of housing America desperately needs. He discovered that, no matter what lever he moved or compromise he made, he was going to need some money from the government to make it work. Then he was going to need some more.
DC has the same struggles as Denver: low-income people requiring housing, too few affordable apartments, and too little affordable apartment development. Writes journo Patrick Clark (@pat_clark):
About 10 million renter households earn 30 percent or less of the area median income, accounting for a quarter of the renter population. The U.S. would need to add more than 7 million cheap apartments to meet demand from such extremely low-income renters, according to a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The solution? More government assistance. The new Urban Institute app The cost of affordable housing: Does it pencil out? explains why this is the case. The interactive tool explains housing development costs (acquisition, construction, etc.) and financing (loans, tax credits, etc.) and most important, the tool allows users to make decisions to close the gap. But as Clark writes, "No matter how you slice it, creating the affordable housing needed today probably requires government help."
Image: Screen shot of The cost of affordable housing: Does it pencil out? Introduction.