Apartment industry officials, looking at an ongoing market demand for more affordable units across the country, are urging developers to become more involved with their surrounding communities in the process of building a better product.
Meeting at the National Apartment Association’s Apartmentalize conference in San Diego, industry leaders noted that public perceptions of affordable income projects usually include the idea that such buildings are destined to be ugly, will lower area property values, have high crime rates, and be available only to those receiving government assistance.
But speakers said a greater community input during the planning stages of such projects, and more open communication, could combat such negative images, leading to a wider acceptance during the city approval stage.
“Knowing what these communities will look like helps paint a picture of what’s to come,” remarked Tami Fossum, executive director of GEM Management, an affordable housing management company based in Charlotte that manages more than 8,500 units in the southeast U.S.
“So many times when people think of affordable housing, they envision distressed housing,” continued Fossum. “Showing the plans for these properties will really shed light on the positive aspects it will bring to a community.”
Speakers noted that with rent increases being seen in most major areas nationally, and the average rents now nearing $1,400 a month, more people are looking at affordable apartment units where they won’t have to contribute 50 percent or more of their income to housing.
It was also revealed at the conference that the risk level of renters continues to improve, especially in places where job market is healthy and rental prices have remained affordable.
A company called TransUnion Rental Screen Solutions revealed figures from their study of more than 500,000 move-ins showing that 34 percent of renters in early 2018 had credit scores of 720 or higher, up from 32 percent last year at the same time.
The lowest scores of 540 or less, meanwhile, have dropped from 6 percent of all renters last year to 5 percent this year.
By Garry Boulard
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