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Affordable Housing That Doesn't Scream 'Affordable'

Free from stigma and institutional homogeneity, these good looking buildings are in a class by themselves
relates to Affordable Housing That Doesn't Scream 'Affordable'

There's a Section 8 housing complex just up the street from my house in San Francisco. Four of its street-facing garages were painted recently (pictured below) in four different color configurations best described as Institutional Drab. It's as if each color selected (such as Swiss Coffee, second picture down) was drained of its vibrancy upon contact with the walls. And these modest buildings, though freshly painted just a few weeks ago, already look dated, decrepit even.

This soul-sapping approach to aesthetics is par for the course for affordable housing, which is meant not only to look low-budget but also low-effort. Conventional thinking on affordability proceeds from the misguided premise that anything well-designed will be, and look, expensive so it follows that design should not be a priority. Further, the argument goes, anything well-designed will be too appealing to eligible to tenants, thus discouraging them from ever leaving. So affordable housing should not only be cheap, it should look cheap. As a result, much affordable housing is more punitive than homey, by design.