March 15, 2019 Elizabeth Ward

When Actions Speak Louder Than Words: The Importance of Pilot Projects

 

Atlanta is facing an affordable housing crisis, as are most cities and towns around the state of Georgia, and the rest of the country. “Affordable housing” is a loaded term, as it means different things to different people. But one thing is evident: communities can’t grow if they can’t provide housing that is affordable to a variety of people, and they certainly can’t grow equitably. At KW, we believe that “housing choice” is a great start to combat the affordable housing crisis. What do we mean by housing choice? We mean that our communities should provide housing options that a variety of people – in all stages of life, of all sorts of family structures, in all income brackets – can afford. More importantly, communities need to provide housing choice in walkable (or transit accessible) places near goods and services. We’ve been saying this for a long time, but we’re tired of talking. We’re ready to do it already.

We’ve been working on a variety of small-scale housing typologies to serve as pilot projects for communities looking to instigate change. We believe that small demonstration projects have the power to catalyze big change – because at the end of the day, people need to see what change can look like. Pilot projects are a great way to build trust, garner support for and demonstrate the value in the ideas we’ve been preaching about (for what feels like forever). We see pilot projects as a way to show that housing choice isn’t scary, that it actually just looks like our most beloved existing neighborhoods: a mix of single family homes, duplexes, cottages, accessory dwelling units and small apartment buildings.

It’s important to remember that in many places, these housing types are illegal. In places that have not updated their zoning recently, pilot projects can also serve as inspiration for these updates. Finally, pilot projects are not an answer to affordable housing problems. They are prototypes, with the ultimate goal of providing inspiration for innovation in housing affordability. Demonstrations only go so far, and we encourage communities to go one step further and incentivize housing choice through strategic policies and funding.

Look forward to a new blog post coming your way Monday where we show a variety of affordable housing typologies and pilot projects in KW’s tool kit.

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