Skip to main content

Affordable Housing

Habitable’s Informed™ approach has wide-ranging applications to help you select safer products across all building typologies and sectors. Using healthier products will decrease pollution and toxic chemical exposure throughout the full product lifecycle. It is especially important to use healthier products in affordable housing, schools, or healthcare facilities where children and/or vulnerable populations are the primary occupants.

Affordable Housing Leads the Way

Over the past decade, the affordable housing sector, in particular, has shown leadership in using healthier products by stepping-up from red-ranked products. In 2016, Habitable (formerly Healthy Building Network) partnered with a local affordable housing developer in six regions across the United States. These projects and their project teams provided an opportunity to test and model best practices and identify healthier products.

View Case Studies

In 2017-2018, Habitable reviewed specifications for new construction and rehab projects designed between 2012-2016 across several regional affordable housing communities. From this research, we compiled general information about products across seven product categories to establish regional baselines; these included: flooring; interior paint; drywall; countertops; cabinetry and millwork; doors; and thermal insulation. This product baseline allows architects, developers, and operators of housing to benchmark their current practice to track future progress towards safer building materials.

View Baseline Reports

A Path to Healthier Affordable Housing in Minnesota

In 2023, Habitable evaluated building products specified across 36 projects funded through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) in 2019-20. We examined the chemical make-up of products in five categories — flooring, paint, countertops, insulation, and water pipes — and used this information to develop a baseline of the typical materials used in Minnesota’s affordable housing units and their Informed color rankings.

We found that nearly 70% of the product types commonly specified across all five product categories are ranked red or orange by Informed. The use of toxic and highly polluting building products is not unique to the affordable housing sector — or Minnesota — and our corresponding report offers opportunities for understanding how and where project teams can make the critical first move of stepping-up from red and preferring product types that are ranked yellow and green.

Download Report

Get Involved

In 2024, Habitable will engage Minnesota’s built environment sector to learn more about safer product selection and co-design a “Roadmap Out of Red.” Get in touch to learn more about being a part of this process, or inquire about using Informed to improve the material health of building products in a school or healthcare setting.

Contact Us