Monday, January 23, 2006

Best Intentions Always Go Awry

Steven J. Oubre of Architects Southwest has a Q & A session with The Daily Advertiser to discuss his thoughts on new urbanism and smart growth. In it he sounds very optimistic but he mentions, almost in passing, the inherent contradiction of doing good design for low-income residents.

Q: Your firm designed River Ranch. Where's the affordable housing there?

A: We've been asked that question before. It's the first New Urbanist project in the state, and as a result, it's a jewel that there is so little of. It's been very successful. We intended that a first-year teacher coming to Lafayette could buy one of the smaller homes. But, the affordable housing that we intended to put in there is drawing high prices now. Unfortunately, because of the place we've created, these little homes that would sell for much less elsewhere are selling for premium prices.

Therin lies the conundrum. If we provide well designed housing for the poor, the poor will not be able to afford it due to the appeal of the market. People ask, why do the poor always live in the worst housing. The simple answer is that that is what they can afford.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I can't figure out, but is that a picture of the old Fischer Hi-Rise?

The way to keep affordable housing affordable is to quality the residents. My understanding is they at least made a stab at that at the site of the old St. Thomas.