Martin LaMar on the Challenges Facing Affordable Housing


Martin LaMar is a big name in affordable housing management, working together with an executive boards of commissioner such as that headed by Grefe. He is committed to making the world a better, fairer place to live, ensuring everyone can access housing that is befitting to their needs. This means taking a sharp blade through the bureaucracy that exists in housing in metropolitan areas in particular, but also taking a candid look at what can be done better. He has recently written a poignant letter to various boards in which he is said to have requested an overview of the challenges they believe are most pertinent and most be resolved as quickly as possible.

Martin LaMar’s Need for Urgency

A recent report showed that, by 2025, some 1.6 billion people the world over could find it difficult to access affordable housing. The result of this could include widespread poverty and an ongoing downward spiral in which those who find it difficult to find housing start to experience other social and economic problems as well. The world, meanwhile, is actually getting wealthier, which means approaches have to be put in place to ensure the weakest don’t find themselves left behind.

Martin LaMar on Approaches that Could Work

There are four key approaches that LaMar believes could benefit the poorest of society and address the shortage of affordable housing. They are:

  1. Unlocking the supply of land. Land is the most expensive part of real estate as a whole. Yet, even in large metropolitan areas, there are underused parcels of land that could be better deployed for housing. According to Martin LaMar, many of these parcels are government-owned and the government has a social and moral responsibility to look after society. They could also create incentives that encourage other land owners to utilize their grounds for affordable housing.
  2. Lowering the cost of construction. Of course, construction workers have to be paid. However, when considering that industries such as manufacturing have been able to become far more productive as of late, it begs the question why construction has not followed suit. LaMar proposes that it is possible to create a reduction of around 30% on the cost of construction, while shortening completion by as much as 40% if there is a greater emphasis on what is known as “value engineering”.
  3. Improving maintenance and operation of existing properties. There are properties all over the world that are standing empty and that have been left to decline to the point that they are no longer fit for human habitation. By encouraging landlords to focus on maintaining their properties and ensuring they are operated properly, more housing can become available.
  4. Lowering the cost of finance for both developers and buyers. The financial environment continues to be unfavorable for developers and investors alike, forcing them to turn to hard money lending and other alternative lenders instead. By addressing this and allowing banks to lend against expected value instead of actual value again, significant changes could be made.

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