The Affordable-Housing Crisis and Building Transportation, Health and Wealth in Underserved Areas

CU On The Air Podcast show

Summary: For many families in the Metro area, safe, adequate housing is a dream, and the limited access to transportation is a nightmare. Today on CU on the Air, we’re talking to CU Denver’s <a style="font-size: inherit;" href="">Carrie Makarewicz</a>, associate professor of urban and regional planning in the College of Architecture and Planning, about the housing and commuting crises and what is in the works to remedy them.<br> <br> * The “missing-middle” and why teachers, police officers, nurses, and people in many other professions cannot afford to buy a home in Colorado.<br> * The inspiration for Makarewicz’s interest in urban planning – The Rust Belt and its fluctuating employment for heads of families.<br> * A recent report out for the state of Colorado by the Common Sense Institute shows since the Global Financial Crisis the region hasn’t continued to build the amount of housing we were producing before the crisis.<br> * The lower supply of housing is a problem because people continue to have children and those children eventually grow up and want to move out and raise their own families. Those new households from children of existing residents combined with people moving into the area contribute to the disparity between who can and cannot afford a home because of the imbalance between supply and demand.<br> * Why communities that resist growth are contributing to the problems that come from growth, such as traffic congestion, poor air quality, and unaffordable housing.<br> * How the inability to afford adequate housing, or spend too much income on housing, means people do not have a healthy place to recuperate each day or enough leftover discretionary income to invest in other things that support their mental and physical health as well as their professional development. This then hurts the workforce longer term, which hurts the economy and employers. It also hurts schools when children are not able to come to school prepared, because of inadequate housing and their family’s lack of income.<br> * Large developers are not doing thorough enough market analyses and are focusing on the small share of high-income groups who can afford expensive single-family homes as well as high-end luxury apartments, rather than smaller homes, townhomes, and condos, at moderate prices. This leaves the middle class to rent high priced apartments, which often requires them to pay too much of their income toward housing without building equity.<br> * Why high-rise apartments are valuable for highly populated areas, the economy, and the environment.<br> * Building permits from recent years, about 25,000 each year, have largely been for single-family homes across the Front Range. In the 7 counties, excluding Denver, 70% were for single family. With Denver, 59% of permits were for single family. Denver is building a large percentage of the multi-family structures that are needed for the growing population but it’s not enough.<br> * If every single-family home that was built in the last two years were replaced by two townhomes, that would have doubled housing production. It would also reduce the amount of land needed for each home and therefore the distance between housing and other destinations, which could help to reduce traffic. As we drive past more low-density housing, it adds more time, more traffic, and requires more road needs.<br> * Why do so many people want a single-family home? A lot of factors, people want private yards, gardens, etc., but there are ways to design denser housing that can accommodate these amenities at lower costs and through less land consumption.<br> * The region’s focus on single-family home construction—which require more land—means people are moving farther out of town and therefore are taking on longer commutes, harming their own health and the state’s environment.<br>