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Charles Kauffman CEO Atty. Ret.     
5101 River Road     
Bethesda MD 20816     
Phone 301-467-9336     
     
charles@kauffman.com     

IMAGINING AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING

IMAGINING AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING NOV 20TH 2011 

Jane Jacobs said “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”

 Michael Kimmelman’s provocative article in the Arts Section of the NY Times on November 17th 2011, should inspire the creation of a significant amount of affordable, well-located rental housing not only for the “homeless” but for our growing senior population to age in place and for younger students and workforce housing.  These potential residences will house one or at most two people who will eagerly swap space for small reasonably priced rentals,   walkable to shops, parks, libraries, offices and public transportation.  The need for truly affordable, accessible housing is made more pressing by the explosive growth of our senior population.

 Old factories, SRO hotels, loft buildings, depressed tenement buildings, schools and government buildings are now being converted into new luxury hotels  and new smaller residential housing units.  Such conversions are profitable and privately developed.  Private developers usually  respond quickly to simplified zoning, reduced   taxes and stimulation incentives allowing density.  Government must continue to control safety, zoning, building standards, upkeep and above all must maintain long term affordability.  Regulation is reminiscent of the 1960’s “Artist in Residence” rules which allowed conversion of unused commercial lofts to residences and studios.

 Older buildings require ideas and design innovation. New developments can be built with full floors in a high rise condominium containing more small l well designed units, perhaps containing  elements of universal design, owned and/or managed by a single entity which leases  those units and receives tax benefits in exchange for maintaining  quality units with affordable rents and increases based on cost of living .

 A coalition of developer, consumer and government groups is being organized  to  create the reality inspired by Mr. Kimmelman’s “imagination”.

 CHARLES KAUFFMAN

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