FY21 Pathways to Inclusion Cohort
We are proud to announce ULI Washington's 2020 Pathways to Inclusion cohort. The Pathways to Inclusion Initiative is designed to broaden...
November 3, 2020
Matthew Cronin, a speaker on the Marathon Mindset panel, summed it up best when he said our response to the 2020 pandemic has been “a natural occurring experiment”. We have been thrown into a situation where the development community has had no choice but to respond to unprecedented situations and obstacles, requiring the need for continuous innovation.
James Chung of Stratogem has already been able to identify the affects this has had on urban cores and the response to remote working. Surprisingly, out of the 15 metro areas Strateogem collected data from, only San Francisco and New York City have seen measurable drops in residents that may be more than temporary. Most populations have been fairly stable. Remote working of course has increased, but so has the acceptance and realization that remote working can actually work. Up to 75% of respondents want to make this a permanent change, although that decision is not solely up to the employee. In fact, the reverse might occur where jobs may follow the talent they need, rather than the talent moving toward the jobs. Wherever this ends up, companies will need to adjust and learn as society settles upon its new norm.
The pandemic has been an accelerant to many already occurring trends, including increased concerns in the environment and around sustainability and the move to second tier cities. What seems to embrace many of these incremental steps is a desire for improved health and wellness, particularly mental health and how it relates to equity within cities. Stacy Aguiar of Equity Residential has experienced an understandable increase in complaints, that have to do with noise as well as behavior of other residents. “Is everyone following recommended safety guidelines and social distancing?” “Should I still go to the gym or would I now rather have work out space in my unit?” In these and other new experiences, stress is being introduced in ways it has never been before. There is no question that how the development and design community manage and solves these issues and their effect on one’s mental health is something to consider.
And there is no question that flexibility is key to solving where we work and live, but flexibility is not equally available to everyone. Some of that flexibility includes what Stacy Aguiar referred to as “micro-migration”, where residents move within their buildings to better fit their changing needs. We have all become aware of the “essential worker”, a once unfamiliar term now ingrained in our vocabulary, and a group that is diverse and economically challenged. Jurisdictions and the development community have been working hard to solve the affordability issue when it comes to providing essential worker housing. Statistically the pandemic has hit this community harder than others since they typically cannot afford to relocate or often live is substandard housing. The more enlightened members of the development community want to do the right thing but lack the efficient and fair approval processes necessary to help remedy the issue, as Grosvenor’s Jon Carr commented. We need more acceptance of diversity in our cities.
Our panelists summed it up best when they stated that processes across the board have been shaken up, that we need a better way to do things, and we need to ask more questions, and the right ones at that. We are still in the middle of an event we will be learning from for many years to come. With open minds and a willingness to find solutions, we will end up in a better place for all.
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