Monday, January 5, 2009

Side benefits of real estate busts

I like that Habitat for Humanity has begun buying foreclosed homes to renovate. The availability of homes depends on the area, of course, but a side benefit of horrible market conditions is that it becomes possible to expand affordable housing into new areas.

We know that concentrating affordable housing ends up with ghettos, but that means that other areas have to carry their fair share of affordable housing. As Habitat expands this new model, it becomes a little more feasible:
In affluent Atlanta suburbs such as east Cobb and north Fulton, finding suitable, foreclosed homes for renovation remains difficult. Even in foreclosure, single-family properties may be priced above the $90,000 to $140,000 range considered Habitat-affordable.

And many are two to three times larger than a Habitat house’s typical 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, leaders say.

But even in these pricier neighborhoods, chapters hope to turn some older houses quickly, and relatively inexpensively. They are fielding more calls from sellers — including homeowners on the cusp of foreclosure — and developers eager to unload some of their unfinished lots.

If the pattern continues, advocates say more spots in higher-end communities could open to modest-income earners.
There are obviously more policy changes we need to see to increase affordable housing across the metro area, and I'll try and have a post on that eventually. I'm not that much of a policy wonk that I wouldn't need to do a bit more research on the topic, but it starts with things like inclusionary zoning.

1 comment:

  1. You make a great point! I know Habitat was having trouble up in Pennsylvania finding homes in their price range because of the housing boom. Nice to find a bit of a silver lining.

    On a completely different topic, do you know why the corner of Peachtree and North Ave is just one big, empty, grassy field? I assume there's some history there, and I thought you might know it.

    Keep up the great work!

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