Safe, Affordable, Efficient Housing

Housing has been identified as a fulcrum for many other aims, from urban resilience to increased health outcomes. This is, in part, because of the decline in access to safe and affordable housing. Housing data for our region ​(JCHS) ​shows that a large share of renters are categorized as cost burdened, with South Bend-Mishawaka (42% ) and Elkhart-Goshen (39%) areas both quite high. Following the Great Recession, many deindustrialized cities lost large amounts of housing stock due to vacant and abandoned housing. For the last decade, the Michiana region and many other medium-sized legacy cities have also seen slower rebound in the housing market compared to other regions of the country. Together, these factors make infill development that would increase available healthy housing stock more difficult.

The Center for Civic Innovation supports the development of research that moves toward a conceptual ideal – zero housing. By this we refer to concurrently supporting movement toward: zero subsidies in housing development of low-income neighborhoods, thus calling for economically efficient housing meeting the local market; zero energy, thus reducing the use-cost and impact of housing; and zero health impacts, thus reducing toxin exposure. As challenges are nested within larger units of analysis than a single dwelling, moving toward the idealized zero at the neighborhood scale is also a focus: zero displacement, thus planning at the onset for solutions to market pressures on low income populations.

Related Projects

  • Advanced Manufacturing

    To address the issue of a lack of affordable housing stock in the region, the Center for Civic Innovation and Commodore Homes Corporation are partnering to increase efficiency in the local production of modular homes by analyzing material usage and waste. By increasing efficiency and improving overall production costs, homes will be more affordable for low-income individuals and families.

  • Safe and Healthy Housing

    Approximately 80% of the South Bend housing stock was built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned in the United States, indicating widespread lead paint hazards in the community. CCI is working with partners to understand the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mitigation strategies of each state, evidence-based DIY mitigation strategies, and whether recommendations provided by health departments is evidence-based.

Partner Organizations

  • 466 Works
  • Southeast Area Organized Residents (SOAR)
  • South Bend Heritage
  • City of South Bend
  • The Commodore Corporation

Related Faculty

  • Dr. Heidi Beidinger-Burnett

  • Dr. Jay Brockman

  • Dr. Danielle Wood