Colleges and universities can commit their land or endowment funds to kick-start local affordable-housing efforts, according to a report released today by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.
Students and employees of colleges in the Washington, D.C., region are part of an increasing percentage of the population facing “unsustainable rent burdens,” the report states.
“The problem of housing affordability has grown to a point where institutions that anchor the well-being of communities have to be part of the solution, even if they have not traditionally played a role in the housing market,” Eric Maribojoc, one of the study’s authors and executive director at the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship at the George Mason University School of Business, said in a press release about the report.
The report outlines options for how universities can provide capital for projects, including through partnerships with what are known as community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, which are organizations that offer services to economically struggling communities and get special U.S. Treasury Department–backed certification.
“Institutions of higher education can partner with local CDFIs to secure institutional credit ratings, if required, for investments from college and university endowments to fund subsidized loans for affordable housing projects,” states the report.
Among other options, colleges could “enter into a public-private partnership (P3) with a private housing developer to finance and build affordable on-campus housing” for students and employees, the report states.
“As the largest collective non-Federal employers in the region, and serving hundreds of thousands of students, it is imperative that we seek innovative, collaborative new approaches to increasing affordable housing,” Andrew Flagel, president and CEO of the consortium, said in the press release.
Financial support from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund made the study possible, according to the consortium, which includes 18 college or university members.