Good design has therapeutic value

Innovation in the development of affordable housign is beign driven by non-profits. Michael Alvidrez, executive director of Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles believes, “Good design actually has therapeutic value,” adding that nonprofit developers are “constitutionally wired for innovation.” Click here to read the full article.

An article in The Chicago Tribune reports on a growing architectural trend that is changing the face of public housing, resulting in affordable homes-developed privately and by nonprofits-that are “well-designed, well-built, and attractive enough to win over wary neighbors.” Helmut Jahn, known the world over for his glass skyscrapers, built a SRO project in Chicago that looks like a train: long and narrow with curved roof and a glass and steel exterior. Residents pay a monthly rental of $160. Although bold and beautiful architecture for affordable homes is still a small portion of the whole, it’s a portion that’s growing as HUD’s budget continues to plummet.

In 1978, HUD had a budget of $123 billion in today’s dollars; the agency’s budget last year was $36 billion. With the federal government no longer able to build big boxy public housing, more affordable housing is being constructed by nonprofits or by private developers as communities require inclusionary zoning with set-asides for a certain number of units affordable to low- and moderate-income families. Another development, Rainbow Apartments, built by Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles, offers sharp angles and red window frames so bold that one resident said that the bright color “wakes up my soul.” The Trust’s executive director, Michael Alvidrez, believes, “Good design actually has therapeutic value,” adding that nonprofit developers are “constitutionally wired for innovation.”