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Housing Report Highlights Needs, Calls for “Basic Urban Planning”

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013   

RICHMOND, Va. - Governments, business and community groups are going to have to do more to provide places where people can afford to live, according to a new report on housing in the Richmond area.

Houses and apartments are being built in the area, according to the study from George Mason University, but most are too expensive or inconveniently located. In 20 years, it said, two-thirds of renters will need apartments that cost below what is the median rent now.

Greg Wingfield, president and chief executive of the Greater Richmond Partnership, said his group would like to see what he calls "basic urban planning," especially in the suburbs in Henrico County.

"I would suspect that Henrico's going to have to prepare themselves," he said, "and start thinking about density issues, being able to cluster around their transportation linkages."

The report said many more apartments and townhouses will have to be built in the suburbs.

The location of the future construction is important, Wingfield said, because if people can't afford to live near their jobs, that adds to their commutes and puts pressure on the transportation system. Good urban planning can, in a sense, flip that on its head, he said, by building transportation and housing together - for example, zoning areas near future transit hubs for apartments and townhouses.

"As we get mass transit and other ways of being able to move people more effectively than just a car," he said, "we'll have an area of density already created."

The report highlighted the housing needs in several outlying areas. For example, it said Chesterfield County is going to have to more than double its percentage of affordable apartments, while also doubling the total amount of housing.

The report is online at rarealtors.com.


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