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Affordable Housing Production Grinds to a Halt During Pandemic

Just when the nation needs a functional market for affordable housing, the industry that builds affordable housing supply has stopped functioning, like to many other parts of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
August 5, 2020, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Before the pandemic, the United States was short an estimated 7 million affordable housing units. That discrepancy is likely to be exacerbated by a growing number of residents in need of support and an affordable housing production industry that has ground to a halt.

"Typically, June 30 is the biggest day for affordable housing deals in New York City. It’s the end of the fiscal year, so developers race to close deals to get funding approval and get started building," according to an article by Patrick Sisson, relaying information from Rafael Cestero, president and chief executive officer of the New York-based Community Preservation Corporation.

"But this year, Cestero says, no deals closed that day — something he’s never seen in his 30 years in the business."

With so much attention paid to the eviction crisis looming over the U.S. housing market as the coronavirus infections increase around the country, lost in the discussion could be the long-term effects of the economic downturn that has followed in the pandemic's wake. 

According to Sisson, "the Covid-19 crisis also stands to exacerbate the nation’s sizable affordable housing shortage, thanks to a brutal convergence of factors. Budget shortfalls mean city and state programs to subsidize housing have been gutted, or may be cut, across the nation, in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles County, New York City and elsewhere. Covid construction slowdowns and materials shortages have made ongoing projects more expensive."

Sisson also speaks with Jenny Schuetz, fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, for more insight into the challenges facing the affordable housing production industry. Schuetz says, "Anything that could make it unattractive or difficult to build affordable housing is happening right now."

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, July 30, 2020 in Bloomberg CityLab
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