A Decent Home

Planning, Building, and Preserving Affordable Housing

By Alan Mallach, FAICP

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What is a decent home? Does it simply provide shelter from the elements? Is it affordable enough that you can buy the other necessities of life? Does it connect you to a community with adequate social and economic resources? Noted housing expert Mallach turns his decades of experience to these questions in A Decent Home.

Mallach's nuanced analysis of housing issues critical to communitie...

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Page Count
Date Published
April 1, 2009
APA Planners Press

About the Authors

Alan Mallach
Writer, scholar, practitioner and advocate, Alan Mallach has been engaged with the challenges of urban revitalization, neighborhood stabilization and housing provision for fifty years. A senior fellow with the Center for Community Progress, he has held a number of public and private sector positions including serving as director of housing & economic development for the city of Trenton, New Jersey, and currently also teaches in the graduate city planning program at Pratt Institute in New York City. His publications include many books, among them Bringing Buildings Back: From Vacant Properties to Community Assets, which has become the principal resource on vacant property strategies and reuse for thousands of planners, city officials and advocates around the country; as well as numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, and research and policy reports. He is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners, holds a B.A. degree from Yale College, and lives in Roosevelt, New Jersey.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. The Case for Affordable Housing
The Need for Decent Housing
Affordable Housing Needs and the Private Market
Is Affordable Housing a Housing Problem or an Income Problem?

Chapter 2. Affordable Housing in the United States: A Short History
The Rise and Fall of Public Housing
Federal Funding, Private Ownership
The Age of Devolution
Affordable Housing Policy Today

Chapter 3. Designing Affordable Housing
Why Design Matters
Housing for Whom?
Housing That Works for People
Cars, People, and Open Space
Safe Spaces
Designing Housing That Fits In

Chapter 4. Finding Sites and Gaining Approval for Affordable Housing
Criteria for Selecting Sites
Good Sites are Hard to Find
Getting Projects Approved

Chapter 5. Making the Numbers Work: Financing Affordable Housing
Defining Affordability
Filling the Gap
Capital Grants and Tax Credit Equity
Putting the Pieces Together: Subsidy Layering and the Development Pro Forma

Chapter 6. Developing Affordable Housing, Step-by-Step
Thinking the Project Through
Forming the Development Team-Finding a Site
The Predevelopment Process
Construction, Marketing, and Rent-up

Chapter 7. Concentration and Opportunity: Undoing the Exclusion of Affordable Housing
The Practice of Suburban Exclusion
Challenging Exclusion in the Courts
State Planning Laws and Affordable Housing Mandates

Chapter 8. Affordable Housing, Community Development Corporations, and Neighborhood Revitalization
Affordable Housing and Poverty Concentration
The Role of Community Development Corporations
Toward Communities of Choice
Balancing Affordable Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization

Chapter 9. The Risks and Rewards of Affordable Home Ownership
Home Ownership-The American Dream
The Costs and Benefits of Home Ownership
Public and Nonprofit Strategies to Foster Lower Income Home Ownership
Low-income Home Ownership and the Subprime Meltdown

Chapter 10. Preserving Affordable Housing
Preservation: A Critical Issue
The Problem of Expiring Use Restrictions
Preserving Affordable Home Ownership
Preserving Affordability in the Private Market

Chapter 11. Homelessness and Affordable Housing
Who Are the Homeless?
Why Are So Many People Homeless?
Changing Approaches to Housing the Homeless
Affordable Housing and Housing First

Chapter 12. Inclusionary Housing: Using the Market to Create Affordable Housing
What Is Inclusionary Housing?
The Legal Status of Inclusionary Housing
Economics of Inclusionary Housing
Making Inclusionary Housing Work

Chapter 13. Policies, Politics, and the Future of Affordable Housing in the United States
Drivers of Housing Policy Change
Shaping Future Affordable Housing Policy

Appendix: Resources for Further Information