Communities across the country are facing a range of challenges to ensuring access to affordable homes, particularly for low- and moderate-income households. One innovative approach to confronting these challenges is the use of publicly owned parcels for affordable housing and other community benefits.
A publicly owned parcel is any site that is owned by a governmental or government-chartered entity. Such entities can include (but are not limited to): units of state or local government, government departments (including housing and public works), transit agencies, school districts and public institutions of higher learning. Publicly owned parcels, often referred to as “public sites,” “public land” and “surplus land,” can include but are not limited to: vacant or underutilized parcels, parcels with existing community/ public facilities with redevelopment potential, and/or land being purchased by a public agency for the development of community/ public facilities.
In strong markets, creative use of these sites can expand opportunities for affordability, especially when mission-driven developers struggle to acquire sites against better-funded market-rate developers. In markets or neighborhoods with less competition for land, publicly owned parcels offer an important opportunity to catalyze development and seed revitalization. However, these parcels can present significant challenges in planning, solicitation and development.
This website serves as the home of Enterprise’s research and technical assistance efforts to support the utilization of publicly owned parcels for community benefits, such as affordable housing. This effort is an outgrowth of an in-depth initiative to support effective publicly owned parcel policies and practices in the Seattle region, funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. This initiative includes, but is not limited to:
- Reviews of past publicly owned parcel development initiatives across the country to identify successful elements and areas for improvement.
- Publication of Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels: Effective Practices in Affordable Housing Development, a national report on leading practices in public parcel development.
- In depth analysis in the Seattle region to support public agencies’ efforts to deliver community benefits.
- Direct assistance to relevant stakeholders to develop recommendations and provide technical assistance for incorporating best practices into the planning, funding and solicitation process.
- WORKING PAPER: Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels: Advancing Implementation in the Puget Sound Region
- NATIONAL REPORT: Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels: Effective Practices in Affordable Housing Development
- Additional resource: Enterprise Live Online Event, June 6, 2017
- Workshop materials: Utilizing Publicly Owned Parcels to Create Affordability; July 26 – 28, Seattle WA
- Utilizing Publicly Owned Parcels Opening Session Presentation
- Practitioner presentations:
- Large/Master Planned Site Profile: Transbay (San Francisco, CA); Shane Hart, San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure
- Large/Master Planned Site Profile: Mueller (Austin, TX); Kelly Weiss, Community Wheelhouse, Inc.
- Mixed-Income Development on Public Parcels: Portland Housing Bureau (Portland, OR); Kurt Creager, Portland Housing Bureau
- Mixed-Income Development on Public Parcels: One Greenway (Boston, MA); Janelle Chan, MBTA
- Promoting Opportunity through Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD): Barriers to Success and Best Practices for Implementation (Enterprise Community Partners, October 2015)
- Promoting Opportunity through Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD): Making the Case (Enterprise Community Partners, April 2015)
- Public Land & Affordable Housing in the Washington, D.C. Region: Best Practices and Recommendations (NHCs’ Center for Housing Policy and ULI, 2015)
- Leveraging Public Land for Affordable Housing in Northern Virginia: A Primer (Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, 2014)
- Public Land for Public Good: Making the Most of City Land to Meet Affordable Housing Needs (Coalition for Smarter Growth, 2012)
- Developing Affordable Housing on Public Land: A Guide for Massachusetts Communities (Massachusetts Housing Partnership, 2005)