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Diversity in the Multifamily Space

It’s well documented that whenever high-rise, multifamily buildings appear in an urban area, it’s usually at the expense of minority communities. Multifamily buildings, new businesses, and an influx of new wealthy residents drive up rent and living expenses and drive these communities out. In other words: gentrification.

My own neighborhood has also gone through this kind of transformation. Since I moved into my apartment building in Chicago’s South Loop, I have witnessed the construction of two brand-new multifamily high-rises and the renovation of an old dorm building into apartments. New coffee shops and restaurants have also appeared in the streets around my building. While this growth contributes to the creation of more jobs and beautifies the neighborhood, it’s also inevitable that it will drive up rent prices.

Not to mention that most of this growth happened pre-COVID.

In May, over 20.5 million Americans were unemployed. We all remember the various conversations happening online about tenants not knowing how they would make rent, landlords who had no compassion, and landlords who heroically helped their tenets by canceling rent. We thought this would all be over in a matter of weeks, but the pandemic is still ongoing eight months later. Millions are still unemployed and many are facing the terrifying prospect of losing their homes.

So what can the multifamily space do to help communities affected by this pandemic? Well, it is proven that diversity in the multifamily space (both in the industry and with its residents) helps foster healthy neighborhoods. The following are some key points I found in my research. I will link to all sources at the end of this article.

  1. Neighborhoods with a mix of single-family, duplexes, and multifamily homes can promote racial and income diversity. (Housing Matters)
  2. A shortage of affordable housing in the United States has disproportionately affected communities of color. (NMHC)
  3. Some housing policies are created with the intention to keep low-income people out of growing communities. (NMHC)
  4. Diverse and thriving communities help foster economic growth across the country. (NMHC)
  5. Communities are stronger when residents come from a variety of different races, incomes, ages, educational backgrounds, etc. (NMHC)
  6. Neighborhoods that have high housing costs but low diversity can force residents to move farther away from where they would like to live, making them more vulnerable to other expenses. (Sage Journals)

This pandemic and election season have brought diversity and inclusion issues to the forefront. If we push for diversity in multifamily and the control access spaces, we can create stronger, healthier communities.

Further Reading:

Ivana Gatica graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Fine Arts and Writing. For the past year, she has been working as a copywriter in the marketing and fintech spaces helping businesses find their unique voice. She also likes to take on freelance writing opportunities in her free time and loves to write fiction and poetry.