Growing numbers of Americans want to live in walkable communities -- neighborhoods where residents can walk to the store or to school and where parks and public transportation are easily accessible. Yet outdated federal restrictions make it harder to build the types of buildings that make these communities work, new RPA research has found.
The supply of walkable communities, brought to life by mixed-use developments where residential units are paired with non-residential space for businesses, community services and other uses, is falling short of demand, our study found.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all place regulatory limits on the amount of non-residential space that a development can have and still qualify for federally guaranteed loans and loan insurance. Usually, these cap the non-residential share of a project at percentages that are too low for low-rise communities.
For example, loans and mortgages from these entities typically cap commercial floor space or income at 15% to 25% of multi-family projects, leaving out most buildings with fewer than five stories.
Photo credit: Doug Kerr, Wikimedia Commons