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Supporting Essential Workers Through Affordable Housing

Mar 17, 2021



by Amon Martin

The United States is facing an extreme affordable housing crisis. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a renter in 2020 working 40 hours a week at minimum wage can’t afford a standard two-bedroom apartment in any county in the United States.  

Unfortunately, essential workers are some of the most negatively impacted by the national affordable housing shortage. COVID-19 has shown us how critical frontline workers are to society – and as housing costs rise and income stagnates, these workers are being priced out of the neighborhoods and communities where they provide crucial services. In 2019, for instance, one California school district reported losing one of every seven teachers due to housing affordability in the area.

One way Pennrose aims to support essential workers is through the development of high-quality, workforce housing in the communities that need it the most. Workforce housing is designed to support everyday working individuals and families – like firefighters, policemen, grocery store workers, teachers, and healthcare staff. Workforce housing supports individuals that earn too much to qualify for traditional low-income housing but are severely cost-burdened by market-rate rents in the area.

Pennrose recently developed Village at Nauset Green with the Town of Eastham in Cape Cod, Massachusetts to help bridge this housing gap. The $23 million development created 65 affordable and workforce housing apartments available at 30% to 90% of the area median income (AMI). Because the Cape has a very limited number of rental properties and a low affordable housing inventory, the additional high-quality units will help house young professionals, working families, and seniors that would be otherwise unable to afford living in the area. 

Pennrose is also developing McAuley Park in Atlanta, Georgia with Saint Joseph’s Health System, Inc. (Mercy Care). The first phase of this initiative will add 170 units of workforce housing, affordable, and permanent supportive housing units adjacent to Mercy Care’s clinic. Creating opportunities for employees to live near their workplace offers several benefits to workers, employers, and the entire neighborhood, including better work-life balance, talent retention, and reduced traffic congestion. Housing stability, quality, safety, and affordability all affect health outcomes, as do physical and social characteristics of neighborhoods. 

At Pennrose, our mission is to develop high-quality housing that meets the individual needs of each community. We look forward to working with more towns and local community redevelopment agencies throughout the country to provide essential workers with the high-quality, affordable housing that is desperately needed.