Building new affordable housing units in rich neighborhoods, invariably elicits an all to familiar, panic stricken response from local residents:

  • Property values will drop
  • The area will become a ghetto
  • Rich residents will not live next to poor residents

Breaking these myths and educating people on the positive impacts affordable housing has on wealthy communities, is one of the greatest challenges our industry faces. Many years ago, The Urban Land Institute published Mixed-Income Housing, Myth & Fact, that outlined and refuted ten of the most common affordable housing misconceptions. Nevertheless myth continues to drown out fact, breeding public distrust and increasingly hostile regulations.

David L. Kirp’s opinion piece, Here Comes the Neighborhoodpublished in yesterday’s New York Times, tells the story of a small, 140 unit affordable housing development built in Mount Laurel, a rich suburb in New Jersey. Placed in service in 2000 after facing extraordinary resistance from the town, the impact of the development on the community is clear, the fears of affordable housing do no support the facts. Thirteen years later:

  • Property values increased with the housing boom and decreased during the housing crisis
  • Crime rates fell
  • Many residents don’t even know that the  affordable housing even exists in their immediate vicinity

Such positive results, as well as many others found in Kirp’s essay,  directly refutes many fallacies surrounding affordable housing. And while the fight against public perception will never end, the Mount Laurel story will certainly help ensure the success of future developments.