A space for thought-provoking conversations about the current issues, trends, ideas and big questions facing the affordable housing and community development field in the United States.  

This podcast series is hosted by Laurel Blatchford, president of Enterprise Community Partners.

Building Blocks is available on SoundCloud, Stitcher and iTunes.

Laurel Blatchford's Headshot

Ep10: Atlanta's Bold Approach to Housing Affordability

It’s a familiar story in many cities across the U.S., felt acutely in the fast-growing metropolitan region of Atlanta: Wages have not kept pace with rising rents. In 2016, more than half of Atlantans were considering housing cost-burdened, which means spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Episode 10 of my Building Blocks podcast explores Atlanta’s housing affordability landscape – past, present, and future – and how the Plan is functioning to put the city ahead of a looming crisis.

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Ep9: Healthy Solutions for Affordable Housing

Recently, Enterprise released a nationwide survey that illustrated how housing costs are undermining the health needs of American renters, many of whom are sacrificing medical care in order to pay rent. Faced with a shortage of affordable, quality, stable housing, low-income renters often lack access to sufficient health care and outdoor spaces, further contributing to poor health outcomes, including asthma, obesity, mental health challenges, and more.

On Episode 9 of the Building Blocks podcast, Dr. Megan Sandel, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, and I discuss initiatives across our industries that are elevating resident and community health as a priority in the development and preservation of affordable housing.

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Ep8: Finding a Frame for Affordable Housing

Across the country, rural and urban communities are feeling the impact of the affordable housing shortage whether that’s due to aging housing stock, community displacement, gentrification, or a lack of investment. And yet, so much work still needs to be done to build public support for affordable housing policies and programs..

On this episode of Building Blocks, Dr. Tiffany Manuel of CaseMade introduces her work with the FrameWorks Institute on increasing support for the housing movement through strategic messaging and helping people understand why quality, affordable housing is vital to our collective prosperity, especially in the upcoming election.

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Ep7: Enterprise Advisors: A Catalyst for Community Success

Enterprise Advisors, the technical assistance and consulting leg of the Enterprise network, has quickly solidified their place as an industry leader through cross-disciplinary initiatives like disaster recovery and resilience, the National Resource Network, and, most recently, Opportunity Zones. In the years following their creation, the Advisors team has expanded their framework from exclusively federal contracts to an increasingly diverse set of public and private partnerships that have elevated new ideas and standards for more equitable and inclusive communities.

On Episode 7 of Building Blocks, I’m joined by Patrick Jordan, Vice President of Enterprise Advisors, to discuss the strategic opportunities created through mission-driven consulting and the impact we can expect from the team in the future.

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Ep6: Building Back Better: Puerto Rico Update

Several themes have become clear on the island of Puerto Rico as local and national partners coordinate the delicate process of response, recovery, and reconstruction following Hurricane Maria. Meanwhile, the true impact of the storm and the resulting mass-exodus of the island’s population is still unfolding.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the vicious storm, I reached out to Enterprise experts Erika Ruiz, Director of Enterprise Advisors, and Laurie Schoeman, Senior Program Director of Resilience Initiatives, about the role Enterprise is taking to support and guide the nonprofit and government sectors through a multifaceted island wide recovery.

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Ep5: Opportunity Zones: Promises and Pitfalls

The Opportunity Zones Initiative has been considered an exciting, new economic development opportunity funneling an estimated $6 trillion in unrealized capital gains into qualified low-income census tracts across the United States. 

However, several questions have emerged throughout the nomination process, specifically around the creation of Opportunity Funds, selecting qualified census tracts, the potential for community displacement, and who exactly stands to benefit from this economic incentive program. I’ve invited Rachel Reilly, Director of Impact Investing, and Flora Arabo, National State and Local Policy Director, to deconstruct Opportunity Zones and explore the potential impacts.

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Ep4: Tenant's Rights and Anti-Displacement Advocacy

The combination of stagnating wages, increased rents, and aging housing stocks has created a shortage of decent, safe, and affordable housing across the United States. So what happens to those who aren’t able to keep up with the growing cost burden? At a rapidly increasing rate, the answer is eviction. Most often occurring in communities with low median incomes and high rates of foreclosure, the consequences of eviction and forced displacement can have profound effects on both the individual family and the broader community. Melinda Pollack, Enterprise’s Vice President of National Initiatives and Denver Market Leader, and I discuss renter’s rights, anti-displacement, and preservation advocacy in the city of Denver on episode 4 of Building Blocks.
 

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Ep3: Advancing Opportunity with Opportunity360

Can better data improve America’s opportunity gap? Laurel sits down with Dr. Tiffany Manuel, Enterprise’s Vice President of Knowledge, Impact, and Strategy, to identify the key barriers and pathways to opportunity across the United States. Through the Opportunity360 tool, Enterprise is working to catalyze stakeholders for better housing investment decisions and more targeted community development interventions.
 

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Ep2: Faith-Based Development Initiative

Can unlocking land supply be the key to increasing affordable housing production? On this episode of Building Blocks, David Bowers, Enterprise’s Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Market Leader, and I discuss moving tax-exempt land owned by houses of worship into the development pipeline to create homes for low- to moderate-income communities.
 

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Ep1: Disaster Recovery and Planning

After a devastating 2017 hurricane season, how can we help communities recover better, smarter, and more equitably? Enterprise’s Marion McFadden, Vice President of Policy, Michelle Whetten, Vice President and Gulf Coast Market Leader, and I discuss programmatic and policy responses in the short- and long-term in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma.
 

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