Connections - 03.29.21

Member Perspective: Three Housing Trends to Watch

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by Samantha VanSchoick, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Corporation for Independent Living

Samantha VanSchoick, Director of Strategic Partnerships, CILOver the past year, many of us have spent significantly more time indoors than ever before. This naturally leads us to think about how we can improve the place we call home. For me, I discovered I “needed” a whole new set of pots and pans – the mismatched, hand-me-down set from college wasn’t handling my ambitious early-pandemic cooking and baking (those recipes became increasingly simple as time went on and ultimately devolved into an embarrassing amount of takeout).

For my organization, Corporation for Independent Living (CIL), all this time at home pushed us to think more broadly about the future of housing and the homes we develop. Here are three trends we’re watching closely:

  1. Increased investment in networked housing and services. Network models that combine technology, proximity and community have great potential to reach an optimal balance between independence, support and affordability. These models, whether scattered sites in a traditional neighborhood or a small proportion of units in a multifamily development, can address pressing issues like the workforce crisis while providing greater independence for people in their communities.
  2. Increased development and renovations of community residences. It’s been clear to many people with disabilities, providers and advocates that housing that gives people the option to live in the community leads to a better quality of life, better care and increased independence compared to institutional settings. COVID-19 has underscored this truth. We also understand the reality facing many providers with regard to the workforce crisis, and that it has become increasingly hard to staff these homes. We might have our rose-colored glasses on, but with the positive implications of recent and forthcoming legislation, we think it’s fair to say that we will see an increase in the number of community residences being developed as states look to reduce waiting lists. We also anticipate many providers will need repairs and renovations in existing homes, as homes built 40 years ago need upgrades, and as people age and home modifications are required to ensure a safe environment to age in-place.
  3. Land use reform prompted by increased awareness and interest in social justice. We have seen this play out in real time in our home state of Connecticut with movements such as DesegregateCT, which is a coalition advocating for statewide zoning reforms that would make it easier to develop more kinds of housing and codify the right to accessory dwelling units (commonly referred to as ADUs, these are small, independent living units that are secondary to a single-family home). If DesegregateCT’s advocacy is successful, barriers to multifamily development in accessible places like public transit corridors and city centers will be reduced, creating more inclusive housing stock with different types of housing options. It will also remove barriers for homeowners who seek to develop ADUs on their property, which could be a game-changer as ADUs allow disabled adults the option to live with their parents or guardians while maintaining the dignity of independent living.

What do you think? Did I miss any big trends? What housing trends will you be watching? Share your ideas with me at [email protected].

About the Corporation for Independent Living

Even before the pandemic, the future of housing is something we thought a lot about at CIL, the Corporation for Independent Living. CIL is a Connecticut-based nonprofit real estate organization founded by service providers to act as a real estate partner for service providers. We specialize in developing homes for people with a wide range of disabilities, including I/DD and aquired brain injury. CIL secures 100% financing to cover all acquisition, design, construction and soft costs, so providers do not need any capital to renovate or build homes. Upon the end of the lease term, CIL donates the property at no cost to the lessee agency.