All posts by Scott Beyer

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Housing USA: Massachusetts’ Smart Growth Incentive

In recent years, the local political obstacles to adding dense housing are thought by analysts to be overcome with state policy. And often, these policies are “stick”–like in nature: Oregon, in 2019, passed a bill to outlaw single-family zoning in most parts of the state. Legislators in Virginia, California and Maryland have since proposed similar bills. But the “carrot” approach, which involves dangling financial incentives to cities that loosen zoning voluntarily, is also possible.

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Community Solar

When many Americans think “solar panels,” they still think of an individual array of panels that go on someone’s home. This means they see solar energy as a burdensome process that requires too much time, money and roof space to apply to them. But recently, solar energy has become much more scalable and democratic – via the “Community Solar” model. This has grown in tandem with government subsidies, and could be a good business opportunity for real estate developers or other environmental entrepreneurs who have familiarity with tax credits.

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Housing USA: The Inclusionary Zoning Debate

There’s a sentiment among housing analysts and advocates—whether right or wrong—that the market can’t fully produce affordable housing. Especially in overheated real estate climates, like New York City and San Francisco, where land values are high and building lots of housing in certain neighborhoods will not necessarily make housing affordable in those neighborhoods. Instead, if they’re to be available to all income groups (which is a worthwhile goal given the economic and health benefits of living in good neighborhoods), policies need to be more intentional. The government, goes the thinking, needs to directly spur affordable housing production in these overheated areas.

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City: Boston

In the summer of 2017, a collection of institutions bet on the idea of “healthy” developments and neighborhoods. Seeing the health disparities in different parts of metro Boston, they financially backed the construction of buildings designed to spur good health outcomes for residents.

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Housing USA: Mexico City’s Grave Housing Circumstance

The affordable housing shortage is a big issue in America, one that’s just now getting the national attention it deserves. Millions of Americans are affected, including ones who endure longer commutes, more cramped dwellings and more failing units than they otherwise would, if more decent housing were well-located.

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Housing USA: Affordable Housing for Appalachia

Mobile homes have long been stigmatized in America. During my recent drive along U.S. route 460, it was easy to see why. Stretching through the heart of Appalachia—eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia—I saw along the mountain hollow highway the poorest version of this housing type.

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Housing USA: The NIMBY/YIMBY Age Gap

Many polarities have been drawn in the NIMBY vs. YIMBY debate over whether or not to build more housing. It’s seen as a battle between rich and poor, homeowners and renters, white people and ethnic minorities and those with suburban versus urban mindsets.

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Housing USA: Miami

If U.S. cities want to create far more quality affordable units on public housing sites, they’ll need to follow two strategies: The first is to leverage funds from HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, since it has become the main funding mechanism to repair and manage old public housing.

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Housing USA: The Rural PHA

When people hear “housing agency,” they likely envision a big city bureaucracy in New York or Philadelphia. But for each of those, there are numerous smaller agencies that serve tiny cities nationwide.

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