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Affordable Housing Fundamentals and Frontiers

Affordable housing for web1
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    8 LU/HSW AIA credits available

This is a sponsored event by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education.

This immersive course presents affordable housing as a distinctive real estate asset class, applicable in every country in the world, that rewards specialist entrepreneurship by people and entities that can truly deliver a double-bottom-line value proposition: better living situations for deserving households alongside economically profitable and sustainable properties. At the same time, it puts students to work applying these principles in an immersive multi-part case exercise drawn from a real property in a real setting.

Though affordable housing has existed as an asset class for half a century, over the last two decades it has risen globally in importance, urgency, and public resources, and is emerging as more important than ever. And as stakeholders demand rapid innovation to tackle urgent housing challenges, in country after country affordable housing now has its biggest change-opportunity window in recent times.

Unlike traditional real estate development, where lack of capital can be a barrier to entry, affordable housing is a growing and rapidly evolving business where opportunities can be created, and resources identified and captured, by those who bring ideas, expertise, and energy. Additionally, many markets (both globally and in the US) have a shortage of capable locally-knowledgeable affordable housing specialist developers, lenders, investors, and policymakers – which creates opportunity for new entrants.

All around the world, housing is economic infrastructure, because it is where jobs go to sleep at night. Affordable housing is foundational economic infrastructure, because that is where essential urban jobs go to sleep at night. Globally, informal housing is where informal jobs go to sleep at night, resulting in the rapid growth of informal neighborhoods and potentially slums. This makes housing both a driver of a growing, sustainable urban economy and a casualty of that same success: the more the economy grows, the more affordable housing is needed, and yet the less naturally does the market produce it. That paradox creates a policy opportunity: sooner or later, every level of government realizes that without affordable housing, the city will become unaffordable and unsustainable, and that it is up to government to create the enabling environment, and provide the critical legal and financial resources, to foster growth of affordable housing.

In turn, that policy response creates business opportunity, because government needs real estate entrepreneurs to turn laws and money (subsidy) into desirable homes and community outcomes. Add to this the world’s emergence into an evolving health-aware built environment and the challenges, and the profitable opportunities, abound – for people and companies that know where to find them, and how to grow them from ideas into transactions.

This course is not focused on the specifics of affordable housing in any specific market, including the United States. Powered by the instructors’ decades of experience in hundreds of projects in 50+ countries around the world, this course enables participants to zoom out and see the context of their cities’ housing markets, so that they may best understand how to improve it.