Government Agencies Can Use Public Parcels to Develop Affordable Homes, Seed Revitalization and Create Healthy, Opportunity-Enriching Neighborhoods

New research recommends best practices for the equitable development of publicly owned parcels to maximize benefit for local communities 

WASHINGTON (May 6, 2017) – The strategic development of publicly owned parcels of land can help communities increase access to well-designed, affordable homes and create anchors of revitalization, according to new research from Enterprise Community Partners Inc. (Enterprise).

Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels: Effective Practices in Affordable Housing Development explains how the development of publicly owned parcels can produce community benefits in a diverse range of areas. 

“In strong markets, creative use of public sites can expand opportunities for affordability in environments where mission-driven developers struggle to compete with better-funded market-rate developers,” said Michael Spotts, senior analyst and project manager at Enterprise. “In struggling areas, publicly owned parcels offer an important opportunity to catalyze development and seed revitalization activities.”

In addition to examining the benefits of publicly owned parcel development, the report identifies significant challenges associated with the planning, solicitation and development process, and also offers recommendations for how to best address them, including:

  • Prioritize community benefits such as affordable housing when developing publicly owned parcels
  • Ensure that there are a clearly defined, context-sensitive and reasonable set of goals and priorities for each site;
  • Avoid regulatory overlap or duplication and facilitate an efficient approval process;
  • Be judicious in the application of infrastructure requirements for the site, with a focus on parking requirements;
  • Consider subdividing larger sites to encourage competition, accommodate limitations in agency capacity and/or engage a broader range of development partners;
  • Consider partnerships to secure long-term affordability for the resulting housing; and
  • Anticipate and address affordability impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

For more information, click here to read the full report, the scope of which was developed in partnership with several public agencies in the Seattle region, including the city of Seattle, King County, King County Metro Transit and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, as part of Enterprise’s Expanding the Supply of Affordable Homes program. The research was supported by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

This research builds upon past research by Enterprise and its partners, published in Bending the Cost Curve, to improve the efficiency of the affordable housing delivery system. Enterprise seeks to end housing insecurity in the U.S., which affects nearly 19 million low-income families who are homeless or paying more than half of their monthly income on housing.