- Industry Topics
Opening Doors of Opportunity
A Guide for Advancing Housing Equity in the Multifamily Industry
A resource to support the apartment industry in understanding and applying a housing equity lens.
Apartment residents are key to the success of the multifamily industry, making it imperative to work to improve equity and opportunity for the mutual benefit of owners, developers, operators and residents.
Apartment firms have opportunities to work both individually and collectively to improve housing outcomes and advance housing equity for residents and communities across the country. This focus invites us to think beyond the need to improve housing affordability and identify other ways to achieve progress. Considering different strategies and applying new practices may be challenging, take time and look different for each organization.
Strengthening economic inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s good business that will create a more robust multifamily market for the benefit of the entire industry and the communities we serve. This new Guide will provide information, tools and case studies to help each of us undertake our own journeys.
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Themes Covered by the Guide:
George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 was a seminal moment in US history. In a real sense, it broke the dam of indifference and neglect that had characterized race relations and economic inclusion for far too long. The events of 2020 caused millions of people to question what they could do to promote better outcomes across the board.
Strengthening economic inclusion will create a more robust multifamily market for the benefit of the entire industry and the communities we serve. Our country’s and customer base’s demographics are changing rapidly. If we truly care about looking like our customers and investing in diverse communities to be more competitive, then now is the time to consider what our firms should be thinking and doing.
There are a variety of real benefits being realized by organizations who are integrating a housing equity lens into their work, from public relations and demonstration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitment to increased resident stability to greater employee satisfaction.
A focus on housing equity invites us to think beyond the need to improve housing affordability to identify other ways to improve outcomes for residents and communities. How can we overcome barriers to apartment development in areas that have historically excluded renters? What tools can increase the financial stability of our renters and help them build credit and wealth? How can we increase capital availability to communities and organizations who have historically lacked investment?
- What is the difference between more equitable outcomes and equal outcomes?
- How does the concept of housing equity relate to those of opportunity and self-efficacy for residents?
- What roles can housing and the apartment industry play in creating better outcomes for our residents and communities?
Adopting a housing equity lens within our industry and each of our organizations requires that we have a shared understanding of the challenges and language for discussing them. The guide provides definitions, data and guidance to help each of us orient ourselves to the key language and concepts involved. Topics include:
In addition, a historical timeline of policies and practices illustrates some of the important ways that housing has already played a major role in shaping the conditions of inequity that we face today, from negative contributors like redlining to positive contributors like local actions to eliminate single family zoning.
The guide uses evidence and arguments to make the case for how this work serves both our own organizational interests as well as those of our broader society and economy. A case study of industry change in adopting green building and sustainability practices highlights our ability to adapt our models and the conditions and incentives that may be required to effectively do so.
- Development and Design
- Property Management and Operations
- Apartment Investment and Finance
- State and Local Policy
- Federal Policy
A set of case studies in the guide showcase apartment industry organizations that are already working to advance housing equity. These both demonstrate that it is feasible in a variety of contexts, but also that it can take a variety of forms. There is no one-size-fits-all approach or specific set of practices that all organizations should implement. Instead, each organization must consider its own unique combinations of business models, market footprints, capacity and practices to determine where it can realistically work to improve resident and community outcomes and what approaches will make sense.
To assist with this determination, specific practices and policy tools are profiled to provide concrete examples of practices in the following areas:
This work challenges us to go beyond changing organizational policies or creating stand-alone programs that can help us get good headlines. Truly moving the needle toward better and more equitable outcomes will require a different level of awareness, commitment and creative problem solving from staff at all levels of the organization, from senior leaders to front-line staff at the properties we operate. For this reason, the guide is organized around a change management framework focused on supporting individual change and learning as a vehicle for organizational change.