The ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing offers expert advice and develops best practice recommendations that reflect the residential land use and development priorities of the Institute’s members across residential product types, with special attention to workforce and affordable housing development in the United States. The Terwilliger Center conducts original research and analyses on housing trends, policies, and development practices—particularly those that support the development of inclusive, mixed-income neighborhoods. Through publications, conferences, and advisory services, the Terwilliger Center’s work provides insights into and strategies for expanding housing opportunities to people across the income spectrum.
Housing Opportunity 2016 Conference
In FY 2016, the Terwilliger Center continued to be an influential convener and voice on the role of housing affordability and diversity as elements of regional and municipal competitiveness. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker chose the ULI Housing Opportunity Conference, an annual gathering of the top U.S. housing professionals held this year in Boston, to announce an unprecedented financial commitment—$1.1 billion—to support affordable and workforce housing initiatives throughout the commonwealth.
Cosponsored by the Terwilliger Center and Enterprise Community Partners, the conference drew housing stakeholders—public officials, developers, investors, housing advocates, and more—to gain new tools, knowledge, and connections for developing exceptional affordable homes and communities that support the broader aspirations of low- and moderate-income residents. The conference’s theme, “building for a changing world,” was evident throughout—from eye-opening keynotes by author Lisa Belkin on the wrenching story of one city’s effort to desegregate housing and artist Theaster Gates on the importance of engaging residents through culture to sessions focused on practical matters such as cost containment, resident services, and energy efficiency.
Preserving Affordable and Workforce Housing
Cities are experimenting with strategies to preserve housing that already exists for lower- and middle-income households—either as “naturally” affordable properties due to age and condition or as units with income or rental restrictions. As government subsidies for affordable housing dwindle and housing costs rise faster than wages, the urgency to find new funding mechanisms is greater than ever.
At the same time, socially minded investors are discovering the economic opportunity that preserving and building affordable housing for the workforce presents. Published by the Terwilliger Center in FY 2016, Preserving Multifamily Workforce and Affordable Housing: New Approaches for Investing in a Vital National Asset tracks this important trend: the role played by equity investors seeking competitive, cash-on-cash returns through investments in rehabilitating and constructing housing for the workforce.
Many ULI members are at the forefront of this movement. Through new financing mechanisms and innovative partnerships, these investors are playing a larger role in helping cities address affordable housing shortages. Learn more about this seminal report in Priorities – Connecting Capital to the Built Environment.
Dallas Advisory Services Panel on Expanding Mixed-Income Housing
The ULI Advisory Services Program leverages the real estate and land use expertise of the Institute’s senior membership to help cities solve complex challenges. In FY 2016, the program partnered with the Terwilliger Center to convene a panel of housing experts who worked closely with the city of Dallas on revising its affordable and workforce housing strategy to address persistent patterns of housing segregation and inequality in the metro region. Chaired by noted affordable housing developer Tony Salazar, the panel recommended a series of actionable steps grounded in a core set of principles—the need to be ambitious, comprehensive, regional in approach, and sustainable in the long term.
The panel suggested several bold strategies to close opportunity gaps and create more inclusive, racially and economically integrated neighborhoods throughout Dallas, including the following: a dedicated trust fund to develop and preserve affordable and mixed-income housing and incentive-based inclusionary zoning to encourage market-rate developers to build high-quality affordable and workforce units alongside market-rate units.
Bay Area in 2015/Colorado in 2015
As a follow-up to America in 2015 (a nationwide survey on consumer attitudes and preferences regarding housing, transportation, and community design), the Terwilliger Center and the ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative published two reports on regional submarkets in FY 2016. Bay Area in 2015 and Colorado in 2015 surveyed adults ranging in age and income in the San Francisco Bay area and Colorado—two high-growth/high-cost regions—to understand prevailing attitudes about each region’s housing, transportation, and quality of life. Both reports are intended to inform the decision making and actions of land use, housing, and health leaders from each region.
Among the most salient findings uncovered in the regional surveys was the likelihood of millennials leaving the San Francisco Bay area due its lack of affordability: nearly three-fourths of those surveyed said they would likely move over the next five years, a trend that could undermine the future of the Bay Area economy. While most Coloradans expressed high levels of satisfaction with their quality of life, pockets of discontent—particularly among low-income residents and renters—do exist. For example, nearly one-fourth of low-income residents surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with their current housing options.
Terwilliger Center Awards
As part of its commitment to sharing best practices, the Terwilliger Center spotlights exemplary mixed-income housing developments and policies each year with the ULI Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable Housing Award and the Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award. In FY 2016, the Kemp Award recognized Charlesview Residences and Townhomes at Brighton Mills, a mixed-income neighborhood in Boston.
Composed of 28 buildings across five city blocks, Charlesview offers both rental apartments and for-sale townhomes in high-opportunity, transit-oriented neighborhoods with easy access to hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, and other amenities. This highly diverse neighborhood is home to many working-class families, and the 26-unit Charlesview development promotes both economic and cultural integration, with residents who speak more than a dozen languages and elderly and income-restricted residents living alongside households earning six-figure salaries.
The Larson Award recognized two policies that have achieved significant progress toward preserving and constructing housing for lower- and moderate-income households in their communities. The Small Multifamily Rental Development Strategy of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority was cited for working with small-scale multifamily property owners to finance the rehab and construction of more than 2,200 units in apartment buildings with fewer than 20 units. The inclusionary zoning program implemented by Palm Beach County, Florida, was recognized for making available over 1,400 workforce housing units targeting households earning between 60 and 140 percent of the area median income in the county.
Learn more about the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing.