Attainable and Affordable Housing: Creating Homes for All

October 20, 2023|18 Minutes
Woodlawn Station exterior
Woodlawn Station, Chicago

As urban populations grow and housing costs continue to climb, creating a wider range of attainable housing can help the many middle-income families who are facing being priced out of the cities they call home.

In this episode of the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, Gensler’s Global Residential Leader Kelly Farrell is joined by Rosemarie Hepner, of the Urban Land Institute, and Phuc Tran, of Jair Lynch. Bringing unique perspectives, they explore the differences between affordable and attainable housing.

While the industry is ripe with opportunity for innovation, the guests also discuss today’s challenges in residential real estate development and share context on how housing burden trends are impacting urban dwellers. The conversation offers practical solutions, from policy changes and design innovations to industry advocacy, that can help address housing affordability, boost supply, and create a wider diversity of housing options for residents.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. The growth of urban populations is exacerbating shortages — As millions more seek housing in cities each year, supply has not kept pace, worsening affordability issues.
  2. Attainable housing is a large part of the housing needs spectrum — While affordable housing continues to be a primary focus of communities, we must expand the spectrum of influence to include attainable housing. Our research shows that sale options for those in the attainable range of 80-120% are equally constrained as affordable housing.
  3. Regulatory hurdles impede development — Cumbersome entitlement processes, local politics, and complex zoning codes drive up costs and timelines, often discouraging developers.
  4. Missing middle housing types can address demand — Townhomes, duplexes, and low-rise multifamily buildings can help meet shifting preferences for walkability and community over large homes and long commutes.
  5. Collective action is needed across sectors to make progress — Coordinated efforts between government, industry, and design will be essential to change housing zoning policies, streamline development, and produce diverse housing that can adapt to growing needs.
Kelly Farrell
Kelly is a global leader of Gensler’s Residential practice and a Managing Director of Gensler’s Los Angeles office. An established thought leader in the industry and a trusted advisor to development teams worldwide, Kelly carries a reputation for working closely with her clients to generate strategies and solutions that are innovative, resilient, and pragmatic over a diverse range of projects. Contact her at .
Rosemarie Hepner
Rosie serves as the Senior Director for the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing. In that role, Rosie leads the Center’s program of work, including the annual housing conference, awards program, and the Center’s technical assistance engagements with local communities.
Phuc D. Tran
As VP of Asset Management at Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, Phuc brings extensive real estate expertise spanning nearly two decades. He has successfully managed a diverse portfolio of properties, overseeing financial structuring, fundraising, and property operations. Prior to his role at Jair Lynch, Phuc served as VP at RBC Capital Markets, where he played a pivotal role in closing significant financing deals in various sectors of real estate development.
Brandon Larcom
Brandon is a global leader of Gensler’s Product Development practice. As Co-Director of Product Development, he specializes in business development, identifying future design industry trends, and licensing for global product rollouts. Brandon currently hosts and co-produces the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, facilitating a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters, and thought leaders to discuss how Gensler is enhancing the human experience through the world of design. Contact him at .