Creating Innovative Housing to Address Changing Demographics

At the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Fannie Mae exhibited “Making Room:  Housing for A Changing America” as it highlighted many of the issues that face today’s shortage of quality affordable housing. In a blog by Maria Evans, VP for Sustainable Communities at Fannie Mae, she notes that “When affordable housing is part of a mixed-income community with good schools, health and wellness opportunities, and good-paying jobs, it is much easier for those communities to address longstanding disparities in educational or health outcomes of low-income residents.”

It was noted at the exhibit that the housing industry has failed to keep up with the ever changing demographics.  The demographics show that 11.63 percent of the total housing stock was for single adults who preferred one bedroom homes. Three and four bedroom homes made up 39.82 and 16.66 percent of the housing stock with two bedrooms composing 26.54 percent.

Shifting demographics & lifestyle changes in the U.S.

This thought provoking idea is now one of the many projects that Fannie Mae has launched under the Sustainable Communities Innovative Challenge.  Under this challenge, Fannie Mae makes a $10 million commitment to generate affordable housing solutions to sustainable communities that provide residents integrated opportunities for employment, health and wellness, and education. Anyone inside or outside the housing industry can submit their ideas and innovations. One example that has come out of this challenge is the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative that came up with the idea of an accessory dwelling unit(ADU) program where a detached residence approximately 450-870 square feet is placed in the backyard of primary homes and can serve as a rental unit, creating a new source of income for the homeowner.  This ADU not only raises the property value but also adds to the affordable housing supply that is very much needed.

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