In recent years, the demand for quality housing that is affordable in communities of choice has increased dramatically, but the supply has not kept pace. As a result, there are far too many communities across the country that are not accessible to all. In many places, housing that is attainable to underserved populations has become even more concentrated in neighborhoods which have historically housed Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), thereby exacerbating disinvestment and disproportionately impacting people of color.
The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) created this Opening Doors of Opportunity Guide as a resource to help highlight ways that multifamily housing can help improve outcomes for underserved populations by supporting the advancement of housing equity in communities across the country. Specifically, this Guide explores opportunities for the apartment industry, policymakers and the general public to strengthen communities, create greater economic resilience for our resident customer base and better align our industry with the growing emphasis on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) outcomes in capital markets.
Multifamily housing is not only a good business investment for apartment companies and the industry as a whole, but it also provides benefits to the localities in which they reside and our entire economy.
While this Guide outlines a number of specific tactics for improving outcomes, increasing housing supply is key to this work. Building more housing is both urgent and critical to creating more equitable communities. Further, growing housing supply at all price points will unlock additional opportunities for rental housing owners, developers, investors and operators in our collective effort to improve outcomes. Although many industries have a role in improving outcomes for underserved populations, the apartment industry plays a unique role in providing access to the resources underserved Americans need. Housing influences many health, educational and social outcomes that are foundational to facilitating upward mobility and narrowing racial and economic disparities. The apartment industry not only provides homes, but helps build the lives of the residents we serve in the communities where we operate.
This Guide is not a specific roadmap or one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it is a collection of resources to help readers understand a range of ideas, options and tools that multifamily owners, developers and operators can use to advance equitable outcomes for renters and strengthen communities. There is a breadth of literature, some of which is mentioned throughout, underpinning this Guide. Readers can use this Guide as a basis of knowledge to learn more about business opportunity that also enhance equitable outcomes.
Resources in this Guide Include the Following:
Information on what opportunity and housing equity mean in practice and how that relates to our industry’s work.
An explanation of key reasons that companies/organizations undertake and succeed in this work, including benefits to businesses, teams, and the residents and communities they serve.
Example practices and case studies demonstrating the real-world viability and benefits of considering and applying an opportunity and equity lens.
Guidance on what it may take to implement practices and create accountability to sustain changes over time, including a practical conversation guide to tackle sensitive topics.
Some organizations and communities will be able to use existing tools and business practices to expand equitable housing opportunities. Others will pursue policy changes, start new business lines or employ new practices that go beyond their current models. This Guide is intended to help organizations and communities determine what makes sense in each circumstance and provide examples.
Who Can Use this Guide
The conditions that inhibit housing equity today were centuries in the making and the multifamily housing industry alone, cannot undo them overnight. Progress will certainly take time, consideration, and public-private partnership. By design, this Guide’s intended audience is broad–industry professionals, policymakers and the general public all have discrete roles to play in advancing goals identified herein. Specifically, this Guide is intended for:
Apartment owners and operators seeking to understand how their housing properties can be a vehicle for better outcomes for residents.
Apartment developers and designers seeking to understand how they can expand housing supply while taking advantage of incentives to address housing equity gaps in the communities where they develop.
Apartment finance and investment organizations seeking to understand how they can attract and incentivize investment in a wider variety of neighborhoods.
Suppliers, service providers and advocates who seek to support expanding housing opportunities in communities of choice and better understand how to support the industry in its journey toward greater housing equity.
Federal, state and local policymakers seeking to create incentives and investments in expanding housing supply in more communities.
Local communities seeking to create more rental housing opportunities accessible to more renters, particularly for low- to moderate-income households, in a wider variety of neighborhoods.
About this Resource
This Guide is for NMHC members and other stakeholders that seek to leverage housing as a primary vehicle for more equitable and just communities. NMHC contracted Enterprise Community Partners to support the creation of this Guide. Enterprise conducted interviews and focus groups with NMHC members and staff, reviewed relevant literature, developed case studies and drafted select content for the Guide. NMHC staff worked closely with Enterprise throughout the development process and edited the final version of the Guide.
Based in Washington, D.C., the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is a national association representing the interests of the largest and most prominent apartment firms in the United States. The NMHC's members are the principal officers of firms engaged in all aspects of the apartment industry, including ownership, development, management and financing. The NMHC advocates on behalf of rental housing, conducts apartment-related research, encourages the exchange of strategic business information and promotes the desirability of apartment living. Nearly one-third of Americans rent their housing, and almost 15 percent live in apartments (defined here as buildings with five or more units). For more information, contact the NMHC at 202/974-2300, email the NMHC at email@example.com or visit the NMHC's website at www.nmhc.org.
About Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise is a national nonprofit that exists to make a good home possible for the millions of families without one. We support community development organizations on the ground, aggregate and invest capital for impact, advance housing policy at every level of government, and build and manage communities ourselves. Since 1982, we have invested $64 billion and created 951,000 homes across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – all to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging. Join us at enterprisecommunity.org.