Terwilliger Center Conference and Housing Awards Highlight Best Practices

The ULI Terwilliger Center’s Housing Opportunity Conference and the ULI Housing Awards are annual initiatives elevating housing development best practices and related public policies. The Housing Opportunity Conference is one of the premier national meetings of the housing development, lending, investment, and policy community. The Housing Awards highlight the efforts of leaders across the country who are working to expand housing opportunity through two awards: the Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable Housing Awards and the Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Awards.

 

ULI Terwilliger Center’s 2021 Housing Opportunity Conference

 

The goal of the Terwilliger Center for Housing is to advance best practices in residential development and public policy and to support ULI members and local communities in creating and sustaining a full spectrum of housing opportunities, particularly for low- and moderate-income households.

 

Established in 2007 with a gift from longtime member and former ULI chair J. Ronald Terwilliger, the center integrates ULI’s wide-ranging housing activities into a program of work with three objectives: to catalyze the production of housing, to provide thought leadership on the housing industry, and to inspire a broader commitment to housing. Terwilliger Center activities include developing practical tools to advance the work of housing developers and other stakeholders, engaging with members and housing industry leaders, conducting research and producing publications, recognizing outstanding housing developments and initiatives through ULI’s housing awards programs, and hosting an annual housing conference.

 

The Housing Opportunity Conference is one of the premier national meetings of the housing development, lending, investment, and policy community. The conference brings together a diverse mix of private and nonprofit real estate developers, public officials, urban and regional planners, housing advocates, architects, investors, and lenders with one common goal: to expand opportunities for a full range of residential development in their communities. Participants have the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research and best practices in the housing industry, to engage with industry leaders, and to tour innovative buildings and developments that showcase the best of mixed-income and affordable housing, good design, and transit-oriented and mixed-use development.

 

The 2021 conference was held virtually, reaching a larger audience than ever, with over 700 registrants, 38 sponsors, and over $100,000 in sponsorship revenue. Over the course of two days, concurrent session topics included (a) inclusive development practices, (b) contextual placemaking, (c) addressing of barriers to multifamily development, (d) low-density rental development, (e) preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing, (f) transcendence of the redline, (g) adaptive-use development, and (h) harnessing of development time and cost through development. Keynote speakers included Ali Wolf of Zonda; David Brickman, formerly of Freddie Mac; and Ethan Handelman of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In addition, participants were able to watch on-demand content that featured virtual tours of the 2020 winners of the Terwilliger Center’s Housing Awards and the release of the Home Attainability Index.

 

Session Summaries

General Sessions

Opening Keynote: “Housing Markets Outlook 2021”
Each year, the Housing Opportunity Conference opens with a general session titled “State of the U.S. Housing Market.” Expert Ali Wolf provided this year’s keynote, offering a detailed look at what to expect from the housing market in 2021—trends, challenges, emerging markets, and future demands. The recording can be found here and an Urban Land article on the session can be found here.

“Perspectives on Housing and Equitable Development from the New Administration”
Before 2020, housing was a growing concern for elected officials and their constituents. Now, after a year in which a pandemic exacerbated the housing needs of lower-income households and during which awareness of the legacies of redlining and discriminatory development has substantially increased, there is unprecedented public interest in housing and housing policy. HUD deputy assistant secretary Ethan Handelman offered his perspectives on the future of federal housing policy from the new administration. The recording can be found here and an Urban Land article on the session can be found here.

“The Future of U.S. Housing Finance”
Well over a decade later since the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble and the entry of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into federal conservatorship, the future of the housing giants remains in question. Former Freddie Mac CEO David Brickman shared his perspectives on the future of the government-sponsored enterprises and of U.S. housing finance more broadly. The recording can be found here.

“Making the Numbers Work for Sustainability”
Housing developers face increasing imperatives to create green, healthy, and resilient communities. Fitting these goals into project financing is challenging. How are developers of market-rate and affordable housing rising to this challenge? How are entitlements, financial feasibility, and funding requirements influencing how deals get put together and built? Has COVID-19 changed the thinking? Developers on this panel described their experience with setting their project performance goals and then putting the financing together in a rapidly evolving context. The recording can be found here and an Urban Land article is available here.

 

Concurrent Sessions

“Contextual Placemaking: Mixed-Use Spaces That Serve Their Communities”
No two communities are the same, and the future approach for mixed-use development will need to cater to the uniqueness of individual neighborhoods. Acknowledging that no silver bullet exists, the panelists shared what they have learned regarding adding retail to residential spaces and vice versa: What are their guiding principles? How do they engage with the community? What are best practices for truly uplifting a community through mixed-use spaces? The recording can be found here.

“Overcoming Barriers to Multifamily Development”

Attainability is complex and can be driven by diverse factors, including income levels, availability of land and natural resources, population growth, and housing supply/demand balances, among other issues. The National Apartment Association conducted a national survey to better understand factors that affect the new supply of apartments, and ranked metropolitan areas by relative ease of developing new apartments. The index rankings seek to provide data to identify differences in land management and to offer a more holistic and fact-based review of best practices and factors that affect housing availability and attainability. Panelists discussed the survey’s findings and what can be done to overcome these hurdles. The recording can be found here.

“Enhancing Community and Corporate Returns through Inclusive, Equitable Development Practices”

Equitable development conversations often focus on the need to ensure that those who have been historically disadvantaged or discriminated against are included in planning and development projects. But perhaps the greatest justification for such practices is the return on investment they provide. Panelists discussed how their companies and the communities they serve are benefiting from inclusive and equitable practices. The recording can be found here.

“Low-Density Rental Development: Does It Help Address Housing Equity?”

“Purpose-built” low-density rental development models are evolving to meet emerging housing demand driven by demographic trends and shifting household preferences. This session explored where these models are emerging, who is implementing and financing them, and which consumer segments they serve? The panel also addressed whether the model increases opportunities to meet a variety of housing needs and challenges, specifically to better meet U.S. housing demand. The recording can be found here.

 

“Preserving Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing through Partnership”

So-called NOAH units—affordable to households at and below the local median income without receiving public subsidies—constitute a majority of the nation’s “affordable” stock. Many cities are at substantial risk of losing NOAH stock to foreclosure and sale, or to the transition of NOAH units to higher-income tenancies. Panelists discussed what cities and developers are doing to preserve the affordability of NOAH stock to meet cities’ future housing needs. The recording can be found here.

 

“Transcending the Redline: Case Studies in Planning for Prosperity”

Cities are leveraging an understanding of the role that development policy and practice have played in the segregation of and disinvestment in black communities to advance equitable residential development strategies that will meet future housing needs, while simultaneously seeking to remedy the harms of past discriminatory practices. Panelists discussed examples of residential equity strategies that are showing promise. The recording can be found here.

 

“Something Old, Something New: Adaptive Reuse Developments”

This panel featured developments that have converted vacant and dilapidated buildings into vibrant mixed-income housing. Thoughtfully renovated by considering historic preservation while still adding new components, including high-quality amenities and energy-efficient utilities, these developments are achievements in battling cost challenges to deliver new housing that often transforms the surrounding communities. The recording can be found here.

 

“Creating a Housing Policy for the 21st Century: Multifamily and Single-Family Markets That Meet Future Needs”

 

The National Housing Act passed in 1934. Although programs have been added and changed over time, U.S. public policy does not reflect the realities of today’s housing markets and the needs of city residents. This panel explored opportunities to modernize housing policy, enabling markets to function more effectively and better meet the needs of residents across all income levels. The recording can be found here.

 

“Lifting All Boats: Extraordinary Returns on Mixed-Income Housing Development”

Inclusive housing policies have been used in many U.S. cities as tools for meeting the housing needs of lower-income households. Mixed-income strategies, however, show value that extends beyond meeting critical affordability needs. Mixed-income models have shown particular value in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This panel showed how developers and communities are benefiting from including lower-income residents in their market-rate neighborhoods. The recording can be found here.

 

“Harness Housing Development Time and Cost through Technology”

After decades of little progress in addressing critical drivers of housing cost, new technologies are proving effective at substantially reducing development and construction time and costs. The panel featured experts who shared strategies that are breaking through. The recording can be found here.

 

“Leveraging Investor-Funded Housing Models to Meet Broader Community Housing Needs”

ULI global CEO Ed Walter moderated a panel exploring how investor-funded development models are improving access to low-cost housing and increasing financial inclusion of neighborhood residents. The recording can be found here.

 

“COVID’s Impact on Housing Development, Access, and Affordability”

Housing has been uniquely affected by COVID-19. Though health imperatives have required eviction moratoriums to protect residents, many will remain vulnerable until sufficient resources are available to compensate property owners for unpaid rent. Tenants of smaller property owners are at particular risk because many of these owners are facing insolvency themselves. Panelists discussed the current status of renters and property owners one year into the pandemic and the impact of COVID-19 on future housing access and affordability. The recording can be found here.

 

On-Demand Sessions

 

“The Terwilliger Center 2021 Home Attainability Index: Using Data to Inform Housing Policy and Development”

The ULI Terwilliger Center’s 2021 Home Attainability Index provides practitioners with an easily accessible resource that can set a data-informed foundation for regional discussions of housing needs and solutions. Specifically, the Index provides a high-level snapshot of the extent to which a housing market provides a range of housing choices attainable to the regional workforce, with an intentional focus on issues related to racial, socioeconomic, and intraregional disparities and inequities. This session provided an overview of the Index’s purpose and core components, highlighted national findings based on the 2021 Index data, demonstrated more targeted findings from a sample of regions, and discussed what the data and evidence tell us about the medium- to long-term impact of COVID-19 on households and housing markets. The recording can be found here.

 

“A Blueprint for Multifamily Sustainability”

With the increasing public focus on climate change and its impacts, as well as new policies affecting building energy performance and pressure from investors, real estate organizations recognize the strong business case for incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their normal business operations. But building a sustainability program for a real estate portfolio is no simple task, especially for multifamily owners, operators, and developers. Multifamily properties use large amounts of energy and water and require strong resident engagement to reduce emissions and lower costs. At this session, sustainability directors explained how they built holistic ESG programs that specifically address the challenges of multifamily assets. Presenters also provided key takeaways from The ULI Blueprint for Green Real Estate, a recent ULI report for real estate organizations looking to develop or accelerate a sustainability program. The recording can be found here.

 

“Pathways toward Healthy, Equitable Housing: Lessons from Four Cities”

Member-led task forces organized by ULI district councils in Chicago, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Tampa worked during 2019 and 2020 to identify barriers to and solutions for creating healthier and equitable communities. In a series of four rapid-fire presentations, task force members highlighted a few of the innovative solutions to the housing crisis uncovered through their work, including bold approaches to community engagement to build support for new ideas. The ULI District Council Task Forces for Health and Social Equity project was led by ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The recording can be found here.

 

Interview with the 2020 ULI Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award Winner

This session featured a Q and A with the director of the Vail, Colorado, Housing Department, who discussed the Vail InDEED program that won the 2020 ULI Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award. Vail InDEED is an innovative deed restriction purchase program aimed at protecting and preserving existing homes in the community for occupancy by local residents. The program protects and preserves existing homes in the community from conversion to vacation homes through the recording of a deed restriction that limits occupancy to local residents. Through this program, the Vail Local Housing Authority can use taxpayer funds to purchase deed restrictions on behalf of the Vail community. As a result, an estimated 271 Vail residents have been assured of the availability and affordability of homes in the community. This has all been accomplished with no development risk to the Vail taxpayer and no opposition or NIMBYism due to increases in density, impacts on traffic, changes to neighborhood character, blocking of views, or other similar concerns often expressed by housing development opponents. The recording can be found here.

 

Virtual Tours

The conference offered virtual tours featuring the winners of the 2020 ULI Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Awards: Arroyo Village, Denver, Colorado; Beach Plum Village, Nantucket, Massachusetts; The Lofts on Arthington, Chicago, Illinois; Montgomery Mill, Windsor Locks, Connecticut; Nesika Illahee, Portland, Oregon (Chairman’s Award winner); and Red Cedar Apartments, Seattle, Washington.

2021 Sponsors

ULI is grateful for the generous support for the 2021 Housing Opportunity Conference provided by the following organizations and individuals. To learn more about the Terwilliger Center and its future events, email housing@uli.org.

ULI Housing Awards

Each year, the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing highlights the efforts of leaders across the country working to expand housing opportunity through two awards. The Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable Housing Awards honor developments that meet affordable and workforce housing needs and help create mixed-income communities. The Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Awards recognize innovative state and local policy initiatives that support the creation and preservation of affordable and workforce housing.

In 2020, six housing developments were selected as winners of the Kemp Awards, and the town of Vail Colorado’s Housing Department’s Vail InDEED program was selected the winner of the Larson Award.

The following were the 2020 winners of the Jack Kemp Awards:

  • Arroyo Village, Denver, Colorado: a first-of-its-kind project in Colorado that encompasses a continuum of care for people experiencing housing instability that includes a homeless shelter of 60 beds, 35 one-bedroom apartments of permanent supportive housing, and 95 affordable apartments under one roof. The project is thoughtfully designed for the residents, including the use of trauma-informed design for the permanent supportive housing, which centers on the belief that spaces should be designed for healing, especially as it relates to mental health. More information is available here.
  • Beach Plum Village, Nantucket, Massachusetts: a new, residential community of 40 single-family cottages with affordable homes that are permanently restricted at moderate prices and fully integrated with high-end market-rate homes. As an ultra-expensive community, affordable housing is a challenge for the year-round residents and workforce critical to Nantucket’s economy. Beach Plum Village not only adds much-needed affordable housing but has made a significant impact on reducing community opposition to affordable housing. More information here.
  • The Lofts on Arthington, Chicago, Illinois: a historic preservation adaptive use of one of the original Sears, Roebuck & Co. buildings, located in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, that turned a blighted structure into 181 affordable homes for over 400 residents, half of whom are children. More information is available here.
  • Montgomery Mill, Windsor Locks, Connecticut: an adaptive use of a historic, long-vacant mill building in downtown Windsor Locks, Connecticut, that has been transformed into 160 units of mixed-income housing and is a catalyst to a broader revitalization effort in Windsor Locks’ downtown. The project required both grit and complex financing to rehabilitate the dilapidated building and restore it as listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while also designing it to withstand flooding as it is located in a floodplain. More information is available here.
  • Red Cedar Apartments, Seattle, Washington: a development that adds 119 affordable apartment homes to the redeveloped Yesler Terrace site. The building was designed to accommodate large families with three- and four-bedroom apartments. To boost Red Cedar as a center of neighborly connections and activities, the building includes a community engagement hub, large meeting spaces, and service provider space near streetcars, bus lines, and the regional light rail. More information is available here.

The jury also recognized Nesika Illahee in Portland, Oregon, with a Chairman’s Award, a recognition bestowed on an especially creative project designed to address a unique affordable housing challenge. Nesika Illahee is a three-story wood-frame building comprising 59 apartments: 13 studio, 30 one-bedroom, nine two-bedroom, and seven three-bedroom apartments. The development team combined Indian Housing Block Grant funds and low-income housing tax credits that enable the project to focus on the acute needs of the Native community, an unacknowledged, underserved, and underrepresented population, by including 20 apartments reserved for Native Americans along with culturally specific services and medical, dental, and behavioral health care for all residents. More information is available here.

“These winners emerged from a record number of applicants and represent unique, yet replicable, solutions to a number of difficult housing challenges, including meeting housing and other basic support needs of severely underserved populations and creating residential adaptive reuses for historic spaces,” said ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing executive director Christopher Ptomey.

Winner of the Larson Award

Like other seasonal and tourist-driven housing markets, Vail faces significant housing challenges, specifically with regard to availability and attainability. The town of Vail has about 7,200 dwelling units, of which about 4,800 are categorized as vacant, unoccupied dwelling units (i.e., second homes/vacation properties). The remaining 2,400 dwelling units are occupied by Vail’s permanent population of 5,305 year-round residents.

Real estate transaction sales data collected by the town’s Housing Department demonstrates that 90 percent of sales from locally owned homes end up purchased by a second home/vacation property owner. Data further demonstrate that because of gentrification and increases in value, second homes and vacation properties are rarely, if ever, attainable for purchase by local residents. As such, local wage earners—including teachers, firefighters, health care professionals, utility workers, municipal employees, business owners, and resort workers—cannot compete financially in this housing market.

In response, the Vail Town Council and the Vail Local Housing Authority demonstrated bold leadership and collaboration on the creation and eventual implementation of the Vail InDEED program.

Vail InDEED is an innovative deed restriction purchase program aimed at protecting and preserving existing homes in the community for occupancy by local residents. Much like an agricultural conservation easement protects and preserves the continued use of a property for agricultural purposes, the Vail InDEED program protects and preserves existing homes in the community from conversion to vacation homes through the recording of a deed restriction that limits occupancy to local residents. Through this program, the Vail Local Housing Authority can use taxpayer funds to purchase deed restrictions on behalf of the Vail community. In doing so, the program positively influences attainability and availability and builds community in a unique way.

The Vail Housing 2027 Strategic Plan was adopted in 2017. The plan set a lofty housing goal of acquiring 1,000 new deed restrictions by the year 2027. A number of specific actions were identified to realize the goal, with the Vail InDEED program being the most impactful. Since inception, a total of 134 net new deed restrictions have been acquired by the Vail community. That is a 28 percent increase in the total number of deed-restricted homes in Vail and the single-largest increase in the history of the community. As a result, an estimated 271 Vail residents have been assured of the availability and attainability of homes in the community. This outcome has all been accomplished with no development risk to the Vail taxpayer and no opposition or NIMBYism due to increases in density, impacts on traffic, changes to neighborhood character, blocking of views, or other similar concerns often expressed by housing development opponents.

“The Vail InDEED program is a unique approach in ensuring that year-round residents of resort communities have access to homeownership and rental opportunities that fit their budgets,” said ULI’s Terwilliger Center for Housing executive director Christopher Ptomey. “Similar towns—where vacation units sit empty while locals and workers struggle to find housing they can afford—should consider replicating Vail InDEED as part of their housing plans.”

ULI Terwilliger Center founder Ron Terwilliger, chair of Terwilliger Pappas Multifamily Partners, chaired the jury for both awards. Other jury members were Alan George, executive vice president, Equity Residential, Chicago, Illinois; Nina Janopaul, president and CEO, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Arlington, Virginia; Mick Nelson, founder and CEO, Nelson Community Partners, Nashville, Tennessee; Pam Patenaude, former deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Vienna, Virginia; Philip Payne, cofounder and chair, the Lotus Campaign, Charlotte, North Carolina; Jonathan Rose, president, Jonathan Rose Companies, New York, New York; Stacy Silber, principal, Lerch, Early & Brewer, Bethesda, Maryland; Margaret Wylde, CEO, ProMatura Group LLC, Oxford, Mississippi; and Bob Youngentob, president, EYA, Bethesda, Maryland.

To learn more about the awards, email Terwilliger.Award@uli.org.

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