October 2, 2017

New Enterprise Case Study - Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels: Advancing Implementation in the Puget Sound Region

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The need for expanding the supply of affordable housing in Washington State’s Puget Sound region is increasing rapidly. Over the past decade, the region has seen significant population and economic growth, largely due to the influx of tech companies and the high-paying jobs they bring. This growth has led to a highly competitive housing market, one that has been cutting into the supply of affordable housing.

As a result, thousands of households spend more than half of their incomes on housing, and many face the risk of displacement. To address these challenges, both public and private sector stakeholders must utilize a range of programs, policies and tools to improve housing affordability and create more vibrant, healthy and opportunity-enriching neighborhoods. A particularly promising approach is the use of parcels already controlled by public entities to support affordable housing and other community benefits.

Building on the Enterprise Publicly Owned Parcels research initiative, Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels: Advancing Implementation in the Puget Sound Region is a case study that addresses six challenges associated with the publicly owned parcel development process in the region, with the goal of providing recommendations that would help the region’s public agencies expand their efforts to coordinate and ensure that effective policies and adequate resources are in place to facilitate more equitable development. We identified near-term opportunities and longer-term options worthy of additional study in the following recommendations for the region:

1. Support mixed-income development on publicly owned parcels.

2. Efficiently and equitably develop large and/or master planned sites.

3. Establish effective site control/valuation practices to facilitate affordable housing.

4. Improve internal processes and cross-agency coordination.

5. Improve the efficiency of the solicitation process.

6. Implement interim uses on sites.

Related publications and resources can be found on the Public Parcels for Homes website and the Enterprise Policy Development and Research webpage. For more information on publicly owned parcel development, contact Ahmad Abu-Khalaf, research analyst (aabukhalaf@enterprisecommunity.org) and James Madden, senior program director (jmadden@enterprisecommunity.org).  

This research on using public parcels is part of Enterprise’s Expanding the Supply of Affordable Homes program, which provides research and implementation support to improve housing affordability through financial innovations, regulatory optimization and development/preservation cost-effectiveness. This program also includes a set of market-based engagements that examine these issues in detail in selected metropolitan areas, including the Atlanta Challenge, which aims at preserving affordable housing in the Atlanta region.  

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