How Prefab Wood Can Make Housing More Affordable

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The need for more affordable housing in the U.S. is well known. The Housing Coalition’s 2020 annual report showed that rental rates are out of reach for nearly every worker in the bottom 50 percent of the national wage distribution. And with research showing that housing is a major social determinant of essential health and well-being, this is a critical and urgent problem to solve.

A recent report by Minneapolis-based environmental nonprofit Dovetail Partners and New York City–based development firm Spiritos Properties LLC—a collaborative effort of authors Kathryn Fernholz and Jeff Spiritos—delves into the origins of the nation’s housing shortages, the historical efforts to deliver more affordable housing over the past 100 years, and the new opportunities on the horizon to construct more affordable housing using efficient prefabricated mass timber.

The report cites the benefits of wood construction—including the mix of both mass timber and light-frame wood construction—to further improve the delivery of timber buildings up to 5 stories and provide a solution for timber buildings between 6 and 12 stories.

The report suggests that more autonomy and choice for residents, speed of construction, and a flexible variety of housing types are key drivers of success when it comes to effective and inclusive affordable housing solutions.

“The time is ripe to focus on the next best way to build affordable housing in the quantities demanded to provide decent housing and as a foundation for all other opportunities to spring from,” according to the report. To read more, visit www.thinkwood.com/prefabforaffordability.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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