of our metropolitan lands from low density to high density, gentrification becomes a thing of the past,” he said.
That’s one place to start, but there’s another hurdle: the
nation’s housing finance system. A recent report from
the Regional Plan Association (RPA), “The Unintended
Consequences of Housing Finance,” described how federal loan programs fail to adequately support the kind of
small-scale, mixed-use, infill development that is part-and-parcel to walkable urbanism.
Federal Housing Administration, Freddie Mac and Fannie
Mae underwriting rules typically cap commercial floor
space or income at 15 to 25 percent of a multi-family
building, but those caps are too low to work for a small
infill project. To stay within the required cap on com-
mercial versus multi-family, a developer would have to
build a larger project that would be out-of-scale — and
possibly prohibited — in many neighborhoods.
The RPA report also laid bare the lack of a secondary
market for conventional mixed-use loans — a problem
fueled by federal guidelines that label loans nonconform-ing. Without a secondary market, banks must hold the
loans on their balance sheets, which discourages them
from making the loans in the first place.
Courtesy of NYC & Company/Photo by Tagger YanceyIV
Courtesy of NYC & Company/Photo by Julienne Schaer
Courtesy of NYC & Company/Photo by Marley White
Courtesy of NYC & Company/Photo by Joe Buglewicz