Housing at all levels, especially workforce housing, remains a challenge for urban centers in many cities. While we value diverse and inclusive commercial neighborhoods, housing costs make it extremely difficult to provide for early career knowledge workers, service workers, teachers, firefighters, and the like. Increasing mixed-income housing inventory is a key opportunity to reshape our cities moving forward.
During the pandemic, we estimated a sizable number of underutilized class B and C office buildings could become excellent prospects for residential or mixed-use conversions. Federal tax incentives are being pursued in the U.S.. And the City of Calgary has a launched new incentive program, supported by provincial funding, that is being tested this year. Advocating for this kind of innovation and showing a willingness to reset urban development strategies for all building typologies, institutions, and businesses for post-pandemic urban centers will be the success metric for future IDA members. Fortunately, IDA members have the expertise to shape a future vision to address today’s challenges and the ability to convene the community partners necessary to drive change.
I am excited to host the August 12th Advancing Places online program where top officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will review the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program as a tool we can use to support our business districts along with the properties, organizations and businesses we serve. Look for this session in the webinar section of the IDA website and later this year for a similar program on Canadian incentives. Innovation is driven by knowledge and IDA webinars are the most accessible avenue for gaining the information needed for inspired leaders to shape our cities.