Provision of Affordable Housing by the For-profit and Non-profit Housing Sector

The non-profit housing sector has been a key player in the delivery of state and local housing programmes in the US. Although there has been no systematic support for the sector, a proportion of federally funded housing programmes must be assigned to non-profit groups, whilst local housing trust funds are often used to finance affordable housing developments by non-profit organisations. The non-profit housing sector overall is responsible for around 1.5 million housing units for low- and moderate-income households (Bratt 2008), which is around a third of all housing subsidised by federal sources (Schwartz 2015). Other affordable housing developers include citywide and regional housing organisations, which cover a wide geographical area (such as Bridge Housing Company in San Francisco), and the Community Builders group (which operates across 14 states). Smaller non-profit housing providers typically address special needs.

Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are significant players in the non-profit housing sector. Many were formed in response to a lack of government intervention to address neighbourhood blight, including in some cases the demolition of affordable housing stock in the name of urban renewal (Schwartz 2015). They have played an important role in addressing neighbourhood level problems and undertake a range of housing development functions, primarily focussing around housing but also working with residents and others to improve neighbourhood quality. They operate across most of the USA (although are more concentrated in some regions than in others), and can range in size from a few staff members to several hundred (Krigman 2010). Since the 1960s, CDCs have acquired, renovated, or constructed over 1.6 million housing units, producing around 96,000 units a year between 2005 and 2008 (Krigman 2010, p. 295). The CDCs are eligible for the range of federal funding sources outlined earlier and also receive tax benefits, although dependence on multiple funding sources to finance housing development is an ongoing challenge for all affordable housing developers. Overall, CDCs in particular highlight the ways in which affordable housing development has been used as an important catalyst for neighbourhood improvement and local economic development. However, the dual goals of CDCs in addressing both the social and economic needs of residents whilst also ensuring the financial viability of housing that they build and manage, can sometimes be contradictory (Schwartz 2015; Bratt 2008).

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