June 20, 2024

March 2024 PIA: Costs and Benefits of Affordable Housing


We hear a lot of discussion about the cost of affordable housing. It’s true that costs are high everywhere, for all types of housing, and especially now, with rising interest rates increasing the expense of borrowing money. We know that affordable housing delivers exceptional financial value, with every dollar contributed by local governments leveraging another $4 – $5 in state and federal investment for our communities. What we talk about less is the spaces themselves- how we build great places for people to live and the human side of the value of affordable housing. 

In our March Policy in Action event, Kate Conley and Sarah Vaccaro of Architects FORA joined us to discuss the ways evidence-based solutions, community engagement, and creative design responses address the need to create more homes while fostering inclusive design in affordable housing development. Designing affordable housing development requires innovative solutions that balance higher density, durability, and sustainability, tailored to the community it serves and the neighborhood’s context. View the slides here.

Key takeaways

Designing for Specific Populations. Affordable housing is an asset that provides a range of thoughtfully designed housing solutions to address the diverse needs of residents. Our local affordable housing serves senior adults, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, veterans, large families, and youth aging out of the foster system.

Community Context. Affordable housing prioritizes community engagement in the design process and is designed to meet local design standards while reflecting the community around the development and building community within.

Housing Crisis = Need for Higher Density. Affordable housing meets the urgent need for more affordable homes by efficiently using available land and providing homes and resources for more local residents.

Durability + Sustainability + Accessibility Goals. Affordable housing developments are built to high standards of quality, durability, and sustainability to serve the community, providing affordable housing to individuals and families here in Santa Clara County for decades to come. Quality, durable materials, and sustainable, environmentally friendly design help keep operating costs lower throughout the development.