December 10, 2020

Andrew Balster Talks Affordable Housing and Social Equity with Cheddar

Andrew Balster, our Chicago Office Leader, recently joined Cheddar to talk about how the pandemic has impacted affordable housing and the overall need for more equitable housing across the country.

Andrew joined Cheddar’s Fast Forward show which seeks to envision our future world as we move away from the COVID-19 pandemic. He spoke to the topic through the lens of his work at CannonDesign, his service as a board member to one of Chicago’s largest homeless shelters and his lifelong commitment to designing for social equity and justice.

The full Cheddar clip is available online with key excerpts from Andrew’s discussion below:

On what the pandemic has taught us about affordable housing
This is a time, where we can’t forget what we’re learning. The house is the largest investment many people make in their lifetimes and an agent for wealth creation. But, with returns dropping since the 1970s and banks less open to offering loans, it has become easier for the wealthy to buy homes and harder for low income families. This pushes those families to rent, and with rent increasing overtime and wages stalling, that just creates a socioeconomic storm.

The pandemic has accelerated these issues with increased unemployment, flight to less dense areas, stalled real estate development which actually can fund mechanisms for affordable housing. It puts us in a position where it’s time for important choices, strong public leadership and innovation.

On how architects can advance new solutions for affordable housing
Even though many of us would be eligible for affordable housing at points during our lives, there’s still great stigma and NIMBYism around it. Architects need to envision future communities, future typologies, entire new ways of looking at how buildings go together to reduce that stigma. We need to achieve a reinvention of how we weave citizens of all classes together in our communities, neighborhoods and buildings.

Cheddar is a live and on demand video news network focused on covering the most innovative products, technologies, and solutions transforming people’s lives.