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Affordable Housing in Amsterdam and Copenhagen: Lessons for the San Francisco Bay Area

December 08, 2017
by
Natalie Bonnewit
2 min read
Photo Credit: Resul Muslu / Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Resul Muslu / Shutterstock

The affordable housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area appears universally known in both the United States and Europe. Affordable housing for special needs households is in even shorter supply. Integrating special needs households within affordable developments, where tenants in good standing can live indefinitely and where services to help vulnerable households retain their housing are provided, is known as Permanent Supportive Housing and is a best practice paradigm in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Institutional support systems and deal structures help make affordable integrated permanent supportive housing self-sustaining in Copenhagen and Amsterdam and some aspects can be transferred to the San Francisco Bay Area. 

This research is extremely relevant for the development of affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most notably, the Trump administration’s intentions to enact corporate tax reform has thrown the chief source of affordable housing finance in the United States, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, into limbo. Learning from Amsterdam and Copenhagen has the potential to facilitate new affordable housing deal structures based on enterprise-level financing such that there is less reliance on public funding and tax credits to pay for the development of new affordable projects. Different and complementary means to finance affordable housing in the Bay Area would allow greater flexibility to the non-profit developers that would enhance their abilities to meet their missions and operate more efficiently within the local real estate market. This would facilitate the creation of additional affordable housing units and prevent displacement of households within the existing housing stock. 

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