Affordable Housing Development Tips

by | Last updated Jun 4, 2020 | Multifamily Residential, Property Development

Affordable Housing is a major issue in property development. In New York City the implementation of the Inclusionary housing Program has pushed affordable housing to the forefront of developers minds. Architecture Firms like ours are now spending more time on affordable housing and mixed income developments.


Affordable Housing Developments

Tips For Affordable Housing Developments In NYC

  1. Inclusionary Housing Program
  2. Quality Housing Program
  3. Work With HPD
  4. Maximize Your Dwelling Units
  5. Understand your Unit Requirements
  6. Maximize Your Bedroom Count
  7. Minimize Parking
  8. Communal Space
  9. Sustainable Housing
  10. Build To last
  11. Affordable Housing Architecture Firms


Inclusionary Housing Program NYC

If you are planning to do an affordable hosing development in New York City you should learn about Inclusionary Housing. I am not going to get into too much detail in this post but we have another article on Inclusionay Housing NYC if you want to read more on the subject. Inclusionary Housing is a program that promotes private developers building affordable housing by offering zoning bonuses in certain areas. Zoning dictates the size of your building but in Inclusionary Housing Areas you can get a 20% increase to your building size for providing affordable units.


Quality Housing Program

The Quality Housing Program does not actually have anything to do with affordable housing. It is a certain set of zoning regulations that promotes buildings of a slightly higher quality by providing slightly higher buildable floor areas. Quality housing also has zoning deductions for certain instances and amenities.



New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development or HPD is a major influence on affordable housing developments. I highly recommend you get familiar with HPD and there programs.


Maximize Your Dwelling Units

Zoning not only dictates the size of your buildings but also the maximum number of apartments. There are very specific calculations one must do to determine the maximum unit count for a property. You can always build less then the maximum but in most cases you may want to maximize your units when doing affordable housing. The maximum number of apartments in a building that you can develop is based on a zoning calculation know as density factor.


Minimum Unit Size for Affordable Housing

NYC Sets minimum apartment sizes for affordable housing. Market rate buildings do not have to follow these regulations. Apartment square footage for this purpose is measured from the inside face of the perimeter walls of the apartments.

Studio Apartments: 400 Square Feet Minimum for studios or zero bedroom apartments

One Bedroom Apartments: 575 Square Feet Minimum one bedroom apartments

Two Bedroom Apartments: 775 Square Feet Minimum two bedroom apartments

Three Bedroom Apartments: 950 Square Feet Minimum three bedroom apartments


Maximize Your Bedrooms

You will want to maximize your bedrooms. You will typically have a greater return on your investment by having more bedrooms. Bedrooms must be 80 square feet minimum, you can be more generous then that of course. We recommend a smart layout that maximizes your bedrooms. If you are doing subsidized housing for example like section 8 they pay by the bedroom not by the square footage. There are a lot of building code requirements for bedrooms like square footage, dimensions, door sizes window location and sizes. Make sure your architect comes up with smart layouts to optimize the square footage of each apartment.


Minimize Parking

You may not want to do too much parking. I recommend staying close to public transportation. Zoning does have parking requirements for most zoning districts. In most of Manhattan parking is waived but not in all parts. There are individual waivers for the parking requirements that you may or may not qualify for. Make sure to take parking into consideration when planning your developments.


Communal Space

Communal space is an easy way to provide higher quality developments. I highly recommend some kind of communal and or outdoor space for your buildings.


Sustainable Housing

Sustainability is just about mandatory these days for new buildings. There are lots of easy ways to make your development more sustainable.


Build To Last

Building to last goes hand in hand with sustainability. Work with good people, hire good contractors and architects. Make sure your building is built well and built to last. You do not want to spend money on a new building just to constantly have to spend more on repairs and upgrades. Build it right the first time it will save you money in the long run.


Affordable Housing Architecture Firms

There are many Affordable Housing Architecture Firms who specialize in affordable housing. There are also many firms like ours that do a variety of project types including affordable housing. Select your architect carefully and choose a firm that cares about doing good work and cares about affordable housing.


Thank you for reading our blog post on affordable housing tips.

We wish you the best of luck with your project. If you want to discuss your affordable housing development with an architect please feel free to contact us directly or leave questions or comments below. You should have no problem finding an affordable housing architecture firm to assist you with your project.


Contact Fontan Architecture


Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.