NEw Attainable House

Housing is a human right

FACT 24

FACT has partnered with History Nebraska and 6 community development organizations to design and promote new approaches to the affordable home for communities in Nebraska. The project is inspired by Evicted, a traveling exhibition highlighting the eviction crisis across America.

6 FACT teams (each including students in the Community & Regional Planning Graduate Planning Studio led by Frank Ordia) are each working with one of our project partners to design a prototype house, a house for a specific site, or a complex of dwellings for locations  in Omaha and Lincoln. The projects will fit the mission of the partner organization and the needs to a specific neighborhood community. After the conclusion of the studio, the work will be featured in a major exhibition at the Nebraska History Museum in 2021.

The NEw Attainable House project grew out of Box House One, designed by FACT with Neighborworks-Lincoln in 2016 and this earlier project will be featured in the exhibition along with those designed in Fall 2020.

Progress during the Fall 2020 semester is featured on this page and will be updated regularly. At the completion of the project and before the launch of the NEw Attainable House exhibition, we will feature each house on its own webpage on this FACT website.

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Why attainable housing?

If you believe that everyone has the right to safe, decent, and affordable housing, then we have a serious problem in this country. The issue has reached crisis level in many communities, perhaps not as bad in the state of Nebraska, but we are not immune. The increasing challenges in many cities include cost, availability, location of affordable housing relative to where people work and go to school, decreasing public investment, deterioration of existing rental housing stock, and the persistent legacies of racist housing policies of the 20th Century. Only 30 units of affordable housing are available for every 100 extremely low-income Americans and Federal assistance only serves 25% of those who need it (Nat. Low Income Housing Coalition). At the same time the government has largely abdicated its responsibility to provide basic human needs such as housing (education and health are under similar pressures).

Since 2001 Federal investment in housing support has totaled about $780B (City Lab) while during the same period the government has paid over $5.9T on war (Wall Street Journal). Is this a question of misplaced values? The US Government defines affordable housing as dwelling costs that are less than 30% of family income (this % keeps rising, since 1937 housing act, but has been defined as 30% since 1981). According to HUD, 12M households spend more than 50% on housing yet HUD continues to cut assistance. In the absence of direct public investment solutions range from new financing mechanisms, to strategic changes in zoning and regulation, new and more diverse housing types, to optimizing construction efficiency to lower costs. The term “affordable housing” is often conflated with subsidized housing – government support for the very needy, but the problem is broader and therefore we find the term “attainable housing” better, but for the purposes of this project we will take affordability in the broadest sense.

Project Team

Fall 2020 students:
Pedro Aguerro, Weston Hanisch, Dana Howerter, Rebecca Kalhorn, Sawyer Kuhl, Quinn McFadden, Nate Meier, Noah Schacher, Jamie Schacher, Emily Tetschner, Josh Weinand, Maddie Whitted

interns and phase 2 students:
Ethan Boerner

consultants and subcontractors:
Actual Architecture Co. (Architect of Record for select houses)

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