Listen on any of the major podcast streaming platforms including:
On this week’s episode we will be speaking with Johanna Anderson, Executive Director of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services. We will be speaking about Founder’s Way, a major mixed-use project in downtown Ithaca, New York on the site of a former Catholic school. This project was purchased by INHS from the Immaculate Conception School at 320 West Buffalo St. in Ithaca from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester. The property will be redeveloped with the intention to create a mixed-use community that includes space for nonprofit and community-based organization, and affordable rental housing serving a range of household sizes and income levels.
Across the United States, historic and ongoing displacement, exclusion, and segregation has perpetuated racial disparities in real estate. Today we will also be discussing housing affordability as a national crisis across the United States at a broader level, including Johanna’s own experience as an affordable housing expert. Join us on this week’s episode as we talk about the Founder’s Way project as well as Johanna’s current work with Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services.
Johanna Anderson is the Executive Director of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services. This nonprofit organization focuses on the development and operations of housing for lower and middle-income people in Central New York State. Prior to working at INHS, she focused on affordable housing development and support services for Native people in Maine and in Minnesota. She has also held board member roles in other nonprofit organizations working in this arena.
[00:00:00] Announcer: What goes into making an iconic building in America? What are the stories and who are the people behind the next generation of architecture? If your work touches the real estate industry in any way or you’re just curious about what goes into one of a kind cities and towns all across our country, join us on the American Building Podcast.
In season two, we learn about everything from skyscrapers to single family homes. From the famous and soon-to-be famous designers and developers responsible for them. This season focuses particularly on the pandemic and how our buildings will change in response. Our sponsor is the iconic design firm, Michael Graves Architecture & Design. And now your host award-winning architect-turned entrepreneur Atif Qadir, AIA.
[00:00:59] Atif Qadir: This is American building, and I’m your host, Atif Qadir. We are recording from the historic home of world-renowned architect, Michael Graves in Princeton, New Jersey. Check out this amazing space for yourself at the Michael Graves Architecture and Design YouTube channel. Now let’s build something.
Today, our guest is Johanna Anderson. Johanna is the Executive Director of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services. This nonprofit organization focuses on the development and operations of housing for lower and middle income people in central New York state. Prior to working at INHS, she focused on affordable housing and support services for native people in Maine and in Minnesota. She has also held board member roles in other non-profit organizations working in this arena.
We will be talking about Founders Way, a major mixed use project in downtown Ithaca, New York on the site of a former Catholic school. More broadly, we will discuss housing affordability as a national crisis across the United States. Thank you so much for being here with us, Johanna.
[00:02:09] Johanna Anderson: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.
[00:02:11] Atif Qadir: Absolutely. So let’s start with the basics. What is affordable housing and how did you become interested in it?
[00:02:20] Johanna Anderson: Well, affordable housing is broadly defined as a household spending no more than 30% of their income, either on rent and utilities or on their mortgage payment, which would also include their insurance in Texas.
And it really is just making sure that people have a safe place to live that stable and that they can afford for the longterm. I became interested in housing from a very, very young age. I always enjoyed the ways that different households chose to live and how they decorated and how they design the spaces to really fit their households needs.
And so I think from that curiosity, it just kind of grew and grew and grew until it got to be the point where I was actually able to be involved on helping people get into homes and find that safe, stable place to live.
[00:03:15] Atif Qadir: And to help our listeners understand affordable doesn’t necessarily mean government owned or government directed. There’s varying degrees of what affordable means, right?
[00:03:26] Johanna Anderson: That’s right. Correct. So the government, they do own some housing that’s public housing, but there are also a lot of. Funds and subsidies that can go into assisting people with building affordable or building housing. And with that additional subsidy will come additional regulations. And then it depends on how many different sources you have in a project, but you could end up with quite a few different overlays of eligibility criteria, design criteria, things like that.
[00:03:58] Atif Qadir: So then what you’re describing is that the development of affordable housing can happen by nonprofit organizations like INHS as well as by government agencies and then also private company. Could you explain a little bit more about those different players and how they operate?
[00:04:15] Johanna Anderson: Sure. So for a non-profit because of our 501C3 status, we are eligible for additional subsidies and different kinds of sources. For profit companies they can’t always access that. And so oftentimes they’ll partner with the nonprofits so that they allow more sources to be used on project. And I would say that when it comes to development, really with all of ours, we have local government involvement with different funding that goes into it. We have private companies that we are taking out loans with.
We’ve got our lenders, things like that. So I would say that it’s, it really is a, a large partnership of all of these various organizations and agencies and companies coming together to see a development come through.
[00:05:02] Atif Qadir: And then, so you have had the opportunity to develop affordable housing across three different states. What are the differences in how affordable housing is developed, managed, and even perceived in these three different places?
[00:05:17] Johanna Anderson: It’s actually five different places. No, that’s fine. You know, it really it’s so dependent on what kind of resources are available at the state level, and, and that also trickles down to the local levels. So that really depends on how much the public and the population of that particular state, how much do they really value the importance of affordable housing? Because as voters, they will make sure that their representatives know that and their representatives and government will then allocate additional resources to fund affordable projects.
So I think that really depends on that kind of influence and communication. But I do believe that over the last special in the last 18 months, the importance of housing is really at the forefront. I mean, these last 18, 19 months, if we didn’t have safe places to live, many people would be unable to remain employed, like continue to function through what has been an excruciating experience.
And I think everybody has really had their eyes opened to these spaces that we exist in now more than ever. And then they really want to help others who don’t really have that, that access. So my hope is that in the next few months and years, we’re going to see more funding and more of a priority to be driven towards these kinds of issues.
[00:06:50] Atif Qadir: And by last 18 months, you’re referring to the pandemic, right?
[00:06:53] Johanna Anderson: That is correct.
[00:06:55] Atif Qadir: That thing called COVID-19.
[00:06:56] Johanna Anderson: Yes.
[00:06:57] Atif Qadir: So I want to dive into the Founders Way project. So describe in detail, the Founders Way site to us. So including what is around it, what is there, and how INHS came to own that property.
[00:07:11] Johanna Anderson: Sure. So for over 130 years, this was the immaculate conception school. It was heart of the Catholic diocese out of Rochester. And many, many people have called that home. Many people have met their spouses there and sent their kids and grandkids there. It really has been just an institution in Ithaca that so many people found solace and just made so many wonderful memories.
So due to a declining population, the school ended up shutting down during the 2016-2017 school year. And the diocese decided to sell it. So INHS put in an offer and luckily it was accepted and we closed in mid 2018. So we took a look at the existing neighborhood. We took a look and evaluated the existing structure and determined that a portion of it actually was not structurally sound enough for us to just run a bit.
So we were able to save one wing, renovate that. And then we’ll also be building new construction on a separate wing, and then we’ll be adding in cam homes along the streetscape that are both rental and for sale.
[00:08:28] Atif Qadir: You mentioned the residential uses and the existing buildings that were there. I know that there is also going to be a gymnasium and office space too. Could you talk about some of those secondary uses as well?
[00:08:39] Johanna Anderson: Of course. So there was an existing gymnasium, and what we decided to do was we detached that, and we sold that back to the city of Ithaca to be used for our it’s our greater athletics activities center called Jack. And so they’re using that space for their after-school programming.
And adjacent to the site, we share the actual block with Beverly J. Martin elementary school. So within that great proximity, we’re anticipating quite a few families to be moving in there since it’s right next door to the elementary school and the lower level of one of the wings, we’ll actually be renting that space out to local nonprofits that deal with youth and homelessness.
[00:09:26] Atif Qadir: Homelessness as an issue that I think many people have been able to see more clearly over the past 18 months. Could you talk a little bit more about like some of the specifics about homelessness issues in Ithaca that you’re facing there?
[00:09:39] Johanna Anderson: Of course. So, you know, unfortunately like so many parts of the country, it is hitting all age groups. So we have set aside units that are specifically designed for individuals and households that are trying to exit homelessness. A lot of times, depending on their circumstances, they just don’t qualify for various housing. And so we’ve got these units set aside and we’ve got supportive services providers that will actually be assisting these families and households get back on their feet.
[00:10:13] Atif Qadir: You mentioned that the development plan includes both the renovation of some of the existing assets that you talked about and building ground up. Could you talk about the design strategies you’re using to tie in the various buildings together and all these different uses together so they look and they feel cohesive?
[00:10:32] Johanna Anderson: Our philosophy when it comes to development, whether it’s redevelopment or new construction, we like to really involve the community members. And so prior to really designing this and getting started with everything, we held quite a few in-person community meetings. And we got a better understanding about what the neighborhood was missing or what they would like to see.
And then we also had our design team, we went out and we took a look at the existing structures that are surrounding the site. And we really wanted to incorporate that into our design so that it was actually enhancing the existing neighborhood and not standing in a stark contrast to it. So if you look at our site, the site design, we’ve actually incorporated quite a few townhomes that run along the streetscape so that it really brings back a residential feel.
And even in the multifamily buildings, they are going to be four stories at their height. When it comes down to the street level, we wanted to drop it down a level. And so from the sidewalk, you only see the first three stories and that four story starts further back in.
[00:11:41] Atif Qadir: Okay, so basically the idea is that when someone is a pedestrian and walking along the side of this lot of this group of lots, they feel like there’s a scale that, that is appropriate for them in terms of the height, the nearness of buildings. That’s something that you were considering then, right?
[00:11:56] Johanna Anderson: Oh yes, very much. And we actually took a look at the existing structures and our site is right in line with what they’ve got.
[00:12:03] Atif Qadir: And how do you choose the designer or the contractor, like the entire development team for a really complicated project like this?
[00:12:13] Johanna Anderson: You know, we are fortunate that we have a lot of really skilled experts in this area. And we’ve developed some very good relationships over the past many years, but we also really, I would say going into it, we want to make sure that the entire design team understands the type of funding that is going to be going into this so that they understand the compliance and the regulations and reporting that are set with this.
Because if you have an inexperienced team member that you know, we’re relying on to provide reports back to the funders or to design a unit, a specific way to meet funding requirements. It can put the whole project at risk.
[00:12:56] Atif Qadir: So it sounds like there’s a particular amount of expertise in the design process, as well as expertise in the process or the documentation associated with it.
[00:13:06] Johanna Anderson: Yes. And I would say, you know, a lot of our partners, all of our partners are really committed to doing this work. So everyone is very invested in making sure that it becomes successful, that they know what the end goal is. And we see value in that.
[00:13:20] Atif Qadir: Cool. And talk to us about the money. So how are you financing this project?
[00:13:27] Johanna Anderson: We have several sources going into it. It is just over 25 million and it is financed through low-income housing tax credit. It is financed through New York state housing trust fund. We’ve got private mortgages in there. We’ve got our own contribution of funds where you’re using a New York state home funds.
We’ve got the state low income housing credits. We’ve got funding from New York state office for people with developmental disabilities, for the commercial spaces, for the non-profits. We have money coming in from the New York state community investment fund. So quite a few.
[00:14:11] Atif Qadir: It sounds like there’s a combination of incentive programs from different levels of government, is that correct?
[00:14:18] Johanna Anderson: That is. We also have here in Ithaca, we reside within Tompkins county and Tompkins county, along with the city of Ithaca and Cornell and a few other villages. They all contribute to the community housing development fund, and that is available for us to apply to for both rental and for sale housing.
[00:14:41] Atif Qadir: Okay. And you talked a bit about homelessness and how that is an issue for this particular area Ithaca as well as across the country. Could you talk a bit more detail about the types of people that INHS serves, and who you see living or buying units at Founders Way?
[00:15:00] Johanna Anderson: So the units at Founders Way, they range in sizes from studios all the way up to four bedrooms. We have always serving income ranges that go from below 30% AMI all the way up to, uh, below 90% AMI. We have certain units set aside for people with developmental disabilities. We have certain units set aside for households that are exiting homelessness. And at this point, predominantly in Ithaca, we see a need for one bedroom units.
However, as I said earlier, because of the proximity to Beverly J. Martin elementary school, we’re anticipating some larger household sizes coming in. But really we usually not, most of our developments, we get a very nice mix of all age ranges and people just like living close to downtown, close to restaurants. There’s a park right across the street and the amenities are just endless right here. You’ve got access to bus lines. I would say that we’re going to seen quite a bit of demand for this one.
[00:16:07] Atif Qadir: I’m going to pause here to let our listeners know that Sidewalk Labs, an affiliate of Google, will be the focus of an episode next month. So Jesse Shapins, the Senior Director of Urban Development at Sidewalk Labs will be joining us. So go to americanbuildingpodcast.com now to subscribe so you don’t miss that interview or any of the other amazing ones that we have coming up.
So let’s talk a little bit more about the big picture. So the real income of the average office worker has essentially stayed the same since the 1980s while that of CEO’s have increased about a thousand X, according to a recent study by economists at MIT. From your perspective, what role does this play in the affordable housing crisis?
[00:16:53] Johanna Anderson: You know, when that gap between your income and your expenses, when that gets more and more narrow, it forces people to make different decisions about how they are living their lives. If your income is staying the same, but all of your costs are going up every year. It’s not just one cost. It’s several. It is your transportation costs, daycare, if you need that, food costs and all of those little incremental increases, they add up and really can impact somebody’s personal budget.
I think that what ends up happening is that people have to make some really tough choices. And in our area, what we’re starting to see is when if the cost of living is going up in a particular area, people may end up choosing to increase their transportation costs and move further away from where their job is. And that can have really, I think, a negative impact on the community that is seeing the population exit to go elsewhere. So it’s definitely a big challenge.
[00:18:01] Atif Qadir: So, so then in terms of the demand for affordable housing, so it sounds like as this gap between the haves and the have nots increases, as the buffer between someone’s income and their expenses narrows that the demand for affordable housing would increase.
I know that it’s probably easy to see in the newspaper, for example, like in New York City, mayor de Blasio had a certain goal to build a certain number of affordable housing units during his term, or that a certain number of people pay over the amount that you had mentioned about one-third. I think it was the amount in terms of their income in their household living or rental expenses.
Can you give us a little more beyond the numbers, a little bit more understanding about this demand for affordable housing, like the types of people, the little bit more perspectives so people can get a human touch to that reality?
[00:18:54] Johanna Anderson: Sure. I think, you know, the idea of identifying as somebody who is living in affordable housing. I think that while I will say it’s getting better, I think that there’s still a stigma that goes along with it, and it’s unfortunate. But I think there’s a lot of people out there that don’t realize that they actually qualify to live in some of these developments. And really, even in many of our developments, we also have market rate units in there because we believe that there really should be a true mix of incomes working together.
And then if you build up a development that is only going to have a certain income band in there, it’s just losing that vibrancy. You know, for household sizes, it really depends on, you know, how many people are living there. But it could be, you know, anybody making below $40,000 a year, or it also depends on, on where you’re choosing to live.
But some of the residents are retired and living on fixed incomes. We also have some residents that are choosing to have a lower wage career and a lower wage job because they believe so thoroughly in the work that they’re doing.
[00:20:11] Atif Qadir: I think that what’s so fascinating is that there are so many reasons for the affordable housing crisis, but there are also so many potential solutions as well. So, the reason why this crisis is such a big issue in places out I understand, like in Ithaca as well as places where I live like in Northern New Jersey is that there also isn’t enough supply of affordable housing. Could you talk about some of the reasons why there isn’t enough places for people to live that are affordable?
[00:20:39] Johanna Anderson: Sure. There’s a range of reasons. Here in Ithaca, it’s a confined geography. You know, one portion of, of the city abuts the finger lakes, Cayuga lake. And so you obviously have these constraints about where you can build. We’ve got large cliffs on either side and that can increase your costs. Lately, the cost of construction has gone up in some cases, a total development cost once you’re under construction, can all of a sudden increased by 25% because of the cost of materials. And because there’s also a labor shortage right now to get people to be working, you’ve got to pay more than you normally would.
[00:21:24] Atif Qadir: Yup. That’s interesting. Robert Reich who’s Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary has said that the term labor shortage is actually a misnomer. It’s actually a pay shortage, and I think that what you described right at the end, that’s it in a nutshell. And I think once you’re able to see those two perspectives, that there may be a different way of perceiving this particular issue that’s feeding into the supply.
I know one thing that we considered, I’m a city planning commissioner in Hoboken, and for us, many of the things that you’ve described are the reality as well, in terms of physical, geographic, or natural constraints, and the cost of land being incredibly high and the cost of construction being in some cases, $300, $400 a square foot for new construction multi-family. And the solution that the city planning commission and the city council took there was to essentially up sum two-thirds of the city.
So the city’s density was less than it was able to handle. And there was a desire to allow for smaller units as a solution, a market-driven solution to affordable housing. So rather than having a townhouse, typical townhouse size lot only being able to offer two or in some cases, three units having those same properties now offer three or four units.
And because of that, that allows potentially the number of units to go up to the naturally allow some of the, take some of the pressure off the rents and the purchase prices for units so there as well. I think that was something that we will see over the next couple of years to see how homeowners and developers react. But we think that that’s going to be a pretty positive solution as well.
So the U.S., we have a long history of racism, particularly against blacks and native people in housing. Could you talk more about the racial disparities that you have seen in housing as someone who’s worked in this arena for a number of years and a number of different geographies?
[00:23:22] Johanna Anderson: Sure. To me, it’s just devastating to know that some of these practices that we had hoped it would be things of the far past their existing today.
[00:23:34] Atif Qadir: You’re talking like, like red lining or like steering buyers or…
[00:23:38] Johanna Anderson: I think there is still a lot of steering going on. I hear a lot of stories about private landlords where a house will show up and everything is fine over the phone. And then they show up to actually take a look at the unit and it’s oh, no, I’m sorry. We can’t do that.
I know that there are still things happening because you know, it’s hard to enforce all of these, these different laws. It’s hard to have the city staffers that can go out and actually do the inspections and make sure that these things are not happening.
Um, but you know, it’s also really challenging to make sure that the people are aware of their rights and that I think too often in this whole thing, you end up with intimidation winning out and that people are just being bullied or intimidated and, and feeling really vulnerable and helpless. And it’s sometimes easier I think for people to walk away then to stand up and fight and make sure that they are getting into the house that they deserve.
[00:24:46] Atif Qadir: And I think they, what you’re describing. Some of those things that can live in between and around the law. And it’s difficult to legislate for I’ll give you one example. So the co-op system, the cooperative system of housing that exists, it’s not that common across the U.S. but specifically in New York City it’s a very, very common at housing style.
This idea that you rather than owning property you own shares in a corporation that owns the whole property, and then you get a lease to essentially live in the unit that you purchased. It’s a very kind of nuanced complicated structure. And the whole origins of this was essentially from the early 1900s in order for very elite, very expensive apartment buildings and Manhattan to have a way to prevent particularly Jewish and Eastern European buyers from buying into these buildings um, that generally did not have people like them.
And those systems even exist today. For example, the first home that I tried to buy in Manhattan was a co-op, and I got rejected. So if you could imagine if someone like me gets rejected from a co-op building, there’s likely something else going on. And I think in particular, what is so fascinating is that there was attempts to address this issue of co-ops. For example, through the fair housing act, but there is an exemption that allows corporations to be exempt. And the fact that a co-op is a corporation they’re exempt from jurisdiction, from the department of justice for fair housing act violations.
So there are so many different loopholes like that. And I think more in terms of the intimidation that you had mentioned, I just recently saw in the news a case of a black family that just moved into a small city in I believe it was Indiana and a neighbor chose to have a motion detector activated sound that it was a gorilla sounds and that would play or monkey sounds that would play whenever the person across the street, a black family, opened the door or tried to go to their car to leave.
[00:26:40] Johanna Anderson: I saw that. It was just awful. Absolutely awful. But I think it is done in myriad ways across the country. And I think it’s just incredibly sad.
[00:26:54] Atif Qadir: I think that they’re what we’re talking about are those things that beyond legislation that remain to be addressed in affordable housing. And I think we talked about entitlements, but could you talk a little bit more about things like approvals, for example, I think there’s this expression that’s commonly heard, not in my backyard or NIMBY. And then also about, uh, for example, like access to incentives,because you mentioned, a very complicated capital stack for financing your own project.
[00:27:23] Johanna Anderson: So I think luckily for us, we are seeing less and less NIMBY as our developments continue, which I’m very grateful for.
[00:27:32] Atif Qadir: Do you think that has something to do with literally how beautiful your projects are and how well they’re done? Is that an element or what are your thoughts?
[00:27:39] Johanna Anderson: Yeah. You know, I’m obviously quite biased, but that is a big thing for me. I believe, you know, we have a really successful track record and I think that, well, I know that when we, we build a development, we’re not planning to sell we’re in it for the long haul. I mean, these, some of these regulatory agreements are lasting over 50 years.
And in some cases, in the case of our for-sale housing, we have a commitment to make sure that that home maintains its affordability for the next 198 years. So. I mean, our organization is really in this for the long haul and we are managing them. And I think that that goes a long way. And when our partners, our community or neighbors know that if there is an issue, then they can call the organization and we’re just very responsive.
You know, I think that there’s much work to be done with zoning. I think that there is also quite a bit to be done when it comes to sustainability and incorporating those kinds of green elements into the design and the systems, especially as know climate changes. Is really quite present and real. And I think the development of our structures that actually has quite an impact.
And it could also, because of that, it could also really be a leader in sustainable building and ongoing design. In terms of climate change, is it flooding in particular, is the issue with ethic or what, how does that matter? In our particular area, it is flooding the water table was quite high and we do get quite a bit of rainfall and we have obviously quite a few waterfalls everywhere.
And sometimes, you know, when you, when you have these areas that have a denser and denser composition and more and more developed, You have oftentimes impermeable surfaces and there’s just no place for the water to go. So that, that ends up being an issue. And in many cases, we try to mitigate that. We try and we’ll incorporate that into the design so that, you know, it may be raised up six feet. Like it really just depends.
[00:29:52] Atif Qadir: So you mentioned waterfalls. I have to ask, Johanna, do you have a t-shirt that says Ithaca is gorgeous cause that’s the t-shirt that everyone has, right?
[00:30:00] Johanna Anderson: That is, that is. And now because of fall, I believe it is, “Ithaca is gourd-ous”, so. I know it is wonderful, but the environment out here is just absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, but with it, there’s also comes this, you know, an element that it can really be quite dangerous sometimes. And so we want to make sure. Nobody wants to have their house or vehicle flooded or anything like that, or washed away or anything like that.
Exactly. But, you know, I think that when you are living on the margins, you don’t have the ability to tolerate that. You know, and really, we always say that, you know, we can make sure that the building is insured and that it’s just not eat the right way. We can’t make sure that people are carrying renter’s insurance. We can’t make sure that people are carrying vehicle insurance. We’re trying to think of ways to be as protective that’s possible.
[00:31:03] Atif Qadir: And I think what you’re describing is that there is this reality that often the areas that are most exposed to climate change are the ones that are the lowest costs to live in and will likely mean that the people that have the least to lose or rather the most to lose are the least able to lose are the ones that end up suffering and those situations.
I just thought today, a major flooding in the Kerala state in India. It is particularly below the poverty line, fishermen men fisher women. There are houses literally getting washed away into rivers, and I’m sure those are the ones that don’t necessarily have the capacity to figure an alternate living situation with like a snap of a finger.
[00:31:46] Johanna Anderson: Exactly.
[00:31:47] Atif Qadir: So then I think we were just talking about other countries. Are there affordable housing methods, structures, policies, or other best practices that you think that we in the United States could learn from? Like, say for example, like Singapore, I think that 80% of their residents live in affordable housing.
[00:32:07] Johanna Anderson: Sure. For our area, I think that we can learn a lot in the designs that people are using in the Netherlands. Similar issues with flooding and the Dutch have done a wonderful job of navigating and dealing with water for centuries. You know, I think we can all learn a lot from some of these other countries.
Like you use Singapore as an example, but you know, if we can remove that stigma that goes along with saying that I live in affordable housing, and we can really help people to understand that this is just one of many housing options. And, you know, if somebody is unable to get into safe market rate housing, this is available and then a level that is affordable to them and fits within their budget.
I think that is really, really critical that we just allow everybody to say that it doesn’t matter what income level you’re at, but you have a home that is affordable to you and your income. That is, and it doesn’t matter what that’s at, but it really is just helping people to understand that you really feel comfortable with what you’re paying every month to maintain a structure around you, a roof over your head.
[00:33:23] Atif Qadir: I think what’s really fascinating is this mindset that we choose to have as a country, as Americans. And there’s, there’s two paths I think that you can go when it comes with housing. I think that we can think of housing as a commodity, like milk or lumber or anything else. And, uh, let it be subject to huge swings and prices, meaning that the ability to access that becomes very challenging depending on what that price is, and then all the downstream consequences of that.
Or that we choose housing is something like public education, where in the United States, everyone, and yes the qualities of our different district by district, but everyone has access to a K to 12 education that’s paid for by the U.S. Government by taxpayers. And I don’t necessarily think that housing needs to be a hundred percent public owned, which I think Berlin actually, they just had a, a recent vote where the city decided to take back control of privately owned, affordable housing from some of the largest operators that weren’t doing it well, and then take it back over.
I don’t think you need to go that full extreme nor do I think it needs to be that a housing is treated like lumber, for example, which went up 20, 30, 40% in the matter of a single quarter. But I think there’s something in between the two and there’s this expression about housing as a human right. And that’s something that, uh, one of the congresspeople, Elon Omar, talked about in terms of how do we think differently about housing. Given all this experience that you have and all the on the ground projects that you’ve worked on, what do you think about that? The way that we think of housing as Americans, and how that could potentially be different in the future?
[00:35:07] Johanna Anderson: Well, I think it’s really important to know that each one of us have different needs for our homes. And, you know, my home looks very different I’m sure from your home. And we have to, I think we have to be more accepting of that.
The fact that there’s not a handful of models that will address everybody’s needs. You need to make sure that we are allowing for different types of housing to become available and really encouraging that kind of diversity of housing stock. That to me, is so important. So having these, you know, adjusting zoning to allow for accessory dwelling.
That’s really important. That’s not to say that everybody in that neighborhood is now going to have an accessory dwelling unit, but it said, you know, that’s yet another tool in the toolbox.
[00:36:01] Atif Qadir: Those are also called granny units. Right?
[00:36:05] Johanna Anderson: We’ve also frogs. Yeah. All sorts of things, but it’s just another resource that we have available to us to address this. Because at this point, sometimes I fear that in certain communities. It’s gotten beyond control and you can no longer address it, and you just it’s lost. And I think that that’s a really dangerous place to be in.
[00:36:29] Atif Qadir: That’s a lot for us to think about, but I think there’s a lot of positive opportunities and tools that we have to address those issues step-by-step. So thank you so much for joining us today on the American Building podcast, Johanna.
And then if you want to hear the behind the scenes stories of how buildings in our country were designed and built subscribe to this podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Google, or wherever you like to listen.
We all know real estate is a tough industry to make it. So how can professionals stand out and make a name for themselves in today’s world? Hear for me, the team at Michael Graves and many of our spectacular guests like Camila on what we did to make it where we are. Grab our exclusive guide Seven Tips on How to Stand Out in Your Field at americanbuildingpodcast.com.
Finally, we live in the richest country in the history of humankind. We must reach beyond the boundaries that we see and the boundaries that we create in order to help build homes and help build communities.
Today, Johanna and I have made donations to INHS, the organization that we talked about today, and I encourage you our listeners do support their worthwhile work as well. My name is Atif Qadir, and this has been American Building by Michael Graves.
By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: MGA&D, 341 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ, 08540, US, http://www.michaelgraves.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.