Are We There Yet? Affordability in the 'New Normal'

In the new normal, an affordable lifestyle is suddenly of interest to a larger circle of us. Here's what some interesting innovators are doing about it, between now and when our politics and legal structure fully align with our needs.

1 minute read

July 28, 2014, 2:00 PM PDT

By Hazel Borys


Glenwood Green Acres, Philadelphia

Tony Fischer / Flickr

"The ways in which we’ve designed, financed, constructed and regulated land use development need some serious tweaking if we’re to align the ambitions of families and businesses in the new era with the infrastructure of community essential to their success."

"The trouble is, investing so much of our energy and so many of our resources in fine-tuning the Ponzi scheme has left us bummed and broke. If only there were some quick and easy way to reverse the trend and put us all back on track to enjoying the happiness and prosperity we were deprived of during the recent unpleasantness."

"Well, good luck with that."

Ben Brown goes on to use stories from his friends to address the recalcitrance in the economic recovery:

  • Aligning affordable scale with design worthy of high-end, mixed-use infill in town sets standard for future growth in Chico, California, a la R John Anderson.
  • Demographic change and economic pressures challenge communities to accommodate the reset Richard Florida predicts.
  • Mercy Housing & Human Development (Hurricane Katrina) and Next Step (Hurricane Sandy) show the way toward design savvy affordable housing, thanks to Bruce Tolar and others. 
  • Affordable lifestyle isn't necessarily that affordable per square foot, as Ross Chapin shows in his beautifully-designed pocket neighborhoods of the Pacific Northwest.


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