Myths on Making Housing Affordable

Source: California Planning Roundtable, Myths & Facts About Affordable and High Density Housing, November 2002

Myth #1: High-density housing is affordable housing; affordable housing is high-density housing.

Fact: Not all high density housing is affordable to low-income families. Simply look to high density areas in downtown San Diego, the Wilshire Corridor in LA, and numerous areas in San Francisco where high density residential buildings are high quality, high in property value, and in highly desirable neighborhoods.

Myth #2: High-density and affordable housing will cause too much traffic.

Fact: People who live in affordable housing own fewer cars and drive less. As neighborhood density grows, miles traveled by vehicle tend to decrease.

Myth #3: High-density development strains public services and infrastructure.

Fact: Compact development offers greater efficiency in use of public services and infrastructure. Single family residential housing typically causes greater strain on resources when compared with higher-density development.

Myth #4: People who live in high-density and affordable housing won’t fit into my neighborhood.

Fact: People who need affordable housing already live and work in your community. Residents of affordable or high –density units range from air-traffic controllers, to first year teachers, and may already be supporting a family. All of these residents could be considered moderate to low income based on existing wages and starting salaries.

Myth #5: Affordable housing reduces property values.

Fact: Evidence gathered by the department of Housing and Urban Development has not displayed any connection between the presence of affordable housing and reduced property values. Many cities, including Irvine, San Diego, and others, mandate the inclusion of affordable housing in new development and have experienced significantly higher property values in newly built communities.

Myth #6: Residents of affordable housing move too often to be stable community members.

Fact: When rents are stable, residents move less often. Evidence suggests that turnover rates among tenants of affordable housing is roughly equal to turnover rates within a typical single family neighborhood.

Myth #7: High-density and affordable housing undermine community character.

Fact: Affordable and High-density housing can be designed to fit into the existing community character and building style. New developments in Orange County and throughout California that are fully or partially affordable projects are architecturally no different than other adjacent properties.

Myth #8: High-density and affordable housing increase crime.

Fact: The design and use of public spaces has more effect on crime than density or income levels would. Crime increases would be found in areas without jobs or with dilapidated housing and infrastructure and would not just appear because of a different income mix among tenants.


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