Draft policy addresses housing crisis and historic preservation

Public policy and public opinion often unnecessarily frame affordable housing and historic preservation as conflicting objectives. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), an independent federal agency, is accepting public comments on a draft policy statement that presents historic preservation as a critical strategy in tackling the affordable housing shortage in this country. It encourages the rehabilitation of historic housing as well as the conversion of non-residential historic buildings into residential use.

The ACHP intends to integrate these principles into federally mandated historic preservation reviews and hopes the expert advice will be useful for a range of stakeholders, including tribal, state and local governments, community groups, nonprofits, developers and other private sector entities.

The shortage of affordable housing in America, which disproportionately affects communities of color, cannot be solved by new construction alone. According to the draft, approximately 40 percent of buildings in this country are 50 years old or older and “given that the cost of rehabilitation on a per-square-foot basis tends to be less than new construction, historic buildings are an important source of so-called ‘naturally occurring’ affordable housing.”

Read the full draft here.

Public comments will be accepted before 5 p.m. on Nov. 11 by emailing housing@achp.gov.