Everyone deserves a place to live.
Unfortunately, Memphis is short of more than 30,000 quality affordable housing units for low-to-moderate income residents. This crushing shortage of accessible housing for working families is a local and national issue, one that has morphed into a full-fledged crisis due to the continued fallout from the global pandemic and inflation.
Homelessness, evictions and housing instability are all increasing and steadily seeping into lower middle income markets. We need to address this issue, immediately.
Solving the workforce housing dilemma is a difficult, multi-pronged challenge that requires innovation and change – a shift in development approach, stakeholder collaboration and mindset.
How We’re Solving Memphis’ Housing Crisis
As the Managing Partner of One Stop Housing, we have been developing clean, safe and affordable housing for the general public for years throughout the State of Florida and, most recently, in Memphis. We are a for-profit company with a philanthropic approach which includes running a non-profit organization called One Stop Cares which provides educational programs, leadership training and financial support to our local communities.
We use a successful model focused on renovating hotels, malls, schools and other vacant properties and converting them into affordable rentals. In some cases, we build new from scratch. We serve as both developers and operators and use these savings to offer lower rents. Unlike other developers, we believe in “buy and hold” and haven’t flipped a large multi-family property in 38 years. We keep rates between 60 and 80% of the area median income range (AMI). The average cost of living in a One Stop Housing community is $640 to $800 per month, which is all inclusive with utilities (water, electricity, waste and garbage).
Unfortunately, there is a stigma that is too often associated with the terms ‘affordable’ and ‘workforce housing’ – a belief that this kind of achievable multi-family development breeds blight, crime and declining value. properties in the surrounding areas. It’s an old cliché that needs to change.
What is Workforce Housing and for whom is it created?
According to the Urban Land Institute, labor housing is affordable for households earning between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income (AMI). It includes a wide range of moderate-income people, including police officers, firefighters, teachers, health care assistants, retail and hospitality workers – people who bring incredible value to the community, who deserve safe, high-quality housing, but who are not paid at levels that allow them to buy within the limits of market inventory. New university graduates, single mothers and retirees are also a regular part of this market segment.
In our experience, quality workforce housing not only provides more affordable living options, reducing housing instability in areas where it is developed, but also generally works for reduce burn and stimulate further new developments. It serves as an anchor that fuels the resurgence of economically distressed areas while fostering a greater diversity of housing types and mixed-income communities in other neighborhoods.
In our model, upon project completion, we bring in One Stop Cares to help support the sustainability of these areas by providing resources to residents ranging from financial empowerment classes, to health service clinics, to business incubation. companies, etc.
Our approach to affordable housing works hand-in-hand with Memphis 3.0, the city’s innovative comprehensive plan for the next 20 years. We are committed to collaborating with all community stakeholders and doing all we can to positively impact those who increasingly find themselves locked out of safe, quality and affordable housing. If we are unable to meet the basic needs of the middle market, how can we hope to help those below the 60% AMI threshold, who deserve nothing less?
Mark Vengroff is Managing Partner of One Stop Housing.