Barriers to Affordable Housing on Brownfield Sites

G Squires, N Hutchison

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    16 Citations (Scopus)
    6 Downloads (Pure)


    Brownfield development incorporates both private and public costs due to the contamination of land. Furthermore, brownfield sites generate negative externalities on real estate viability, and are perceived to be risky and costly for development. Viability risk makes affordable housing development on brownfield sites even more financially and economically challenging. To understand this issue, this paper introduces a conceptual model to analyse and overcome the economic and financial barriers to meet both community and environmental concerns, as well as verifying how it holds in practice via case studies that cover the development of three large scale brownfield sites that integrate affordable housing in the City of San Francisco. Significant barriers to overcome include (1) engaging with economic geography rationale; (2) integrating with economic viability and sustainability concerns; (3) increasing affordable housing quality; and (4) transcending scale to improve policy tool efficacy. Conclusions argue that viability needs to consider cost-quality both internally and externally for high-quality affordable housing units in large-scale brownfield environments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number105276
    Number of pages12
    JournalLand Use Policy
    Early online date16 Jan 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021

    Bibliographical note

    The authors would like to thank all interviewees that gave freely of their time. We especially thank those housing providers returning to comment on final drafts. Particular thanks go to Jonathan Stern (Bridge Housing), Craig Adelman (Amcal Housing and LeSar), John Kauh (Wells Fargo), and Linda Mandolini (Eden Housing). Further thanks to the anonymous reviewers who made valuable comments on the original version of the paper.


    • Brownfield
    • Development
    • Planning
    • affordable housing


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