No Vacancy: Uncovering the Architectural Contributions to Social and Economic Sustainability in Subsidized Housing
MetadataShow full item record
Vacancy in publicly funded housing is both a social and an economic loss. This research uncovers and tests the architectural contributions to vacancy in affordable, family housing in Washington State. Vacancy is broken into its core components: turnover frequency (how often people move) and turnover duration (including both length of time to get the unit ready and length of time to re-lease the apartment). The analysis is at the apartment scale, investigating the vacancy data of twelve properties in detail, dwelling by dwelling. This is a sequential mixed-methods study. During the qualitative phase of the project, asset managers, maintenance staff, property managers and transfer tenants (residents who moved from one unit in a given building to another) were interviewed to determine key architectural and non-architectural predictor variables to include in the quantitative analysis. During the succeeding quantitative phase, multiple regression analysis determined the effect of these predictors on the dependent variables of turnover frequency and turnover duration. The results show a high correlation between turnover frequency and variables such as the apartment’s floor level and floor area. Results show a linear, positive relationship between tenancy duration and floor area per person, regardless of whether the household meets the legal definition of crowded. Though the focus of the study was on architectural attributes, there are significant findings related to the household’s status as a Section 8 voucher holder and/or a single parent. The study introduces a grounded theory of housing design called “Design of Compensation”. Often, program and site constraints lead to architects reluctantly designing a few “troublesome” units. The theory posited states the importance of making these troublesome units better. If architects, predicting this occupancy hazard, design compensatory positive attributes, such as laundry convenience, bay window or a balcony, they may be able to mitigate the high turnover frequency. Thus, data-driven research that helps architects understand the negative and positive effects on occupancy can help them to design better housing.