Reinventing Affordable Housing
The U.S. has a shortage of 6.8 million rental homes affordable and available to extremely low-income renters, whose household incomes are at or below the poverty guideline or 30% of their area median income.
The affordable housing market is a market I've always been fascinated with. In college, my senior thesis was around building a LEED certified affordable housing project in South Boston. That was back in 2008 and pretty sure any enthusiasm around this was shattered given the economic events that ensued. Anyways, I digress. Affordable housing has around 16.2 million rental homes in the US with another 46 million people living in poverty. This number has increased 38% over the last 13 years – the highest rate in almost 60 years. You can do the math, but this is a problem that needs solving.
The technology trends have driven many talented entrepreneurs to build important businesses. Those same trends have led to a missed opportunity to disrupt this market in my opinion. Yes, there are businesses being created and funded but it seems like the area of most importance is connecting folks who need affordable housing with resources to keep that housing. I've spent many years building companies that help put people to work and can tell you the number one issue people face when struggling to pay bills is finding them more than one job at a local level. See, affordable housing starts with the future of work, then it backs into the housing issue.
My call to action is simple. Build a 'connected community" that sits inside a mixed use development where the jobs are below and housing is above. There is one central system that manages every tenants income, rent, benefits, skills, job opportunities. These mixed use properties exist all over the US and can be acquired at below market rates. The 'connected community' will allow network effects to occur with tenants, landlords and local communities that drive everyone to create upward mobility. This is important. If we provide jobs, we provide income. When we provide income, we can create upward mobility to allow a tenant to move along the human progression of potentially buying a home one day.
Housing starts with jobs, not housing.