Essential Housing in Urban Areas

13 October 2021

Building Sustainable Communities

As a result of the various challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the US is currently dealing with one of the biggest housing crises in living memory. Much of the problem stems from a shortage in moderately priced rental housing in the face of rising demand, building costs, and supply chain issues.

That said, providing essential housing in urban areas is a sensible and morally right mission.

Defining Essential Housing

While definitions may vary slightly among some groups, at the very least, essential housing should be that which offers working professionals affordable, quality housing in urban markets. Financially, this would encompass those who earn more than the cutoff for public housing subsidies but less than 140% of the area’s median income.

Essential housing does not include workforce housing which usually refers to middle-income working families who rent in more suburban areas. Similarly, essential housing does not include luxury housing which is currently saturating the market in most cities.

A key factor driving the essential housing shortage lies in the number of younger people entering the workforce and knowing that more are on their way.

Currently, the US housing market is 3.8 million homes short of what is needed to meet demand.

sustainable apartments

One of the most significant factors affecting market availability comes from the cost challenges in building new housing. Contributing to the rise in costs are:
– Increased Construction Costs – Over the past ten years, the average costs associated with construction have outpaced average wage growth by 25%.
– Increased Land Costs – With the value of land used for single-family housing rising four times faster than inflation and the price of land under existing single-family homes going up over 25%, the cost of land for new structures has also increased.
– Effects of the Pandemic – The COVID-19 pandemic has had several long-reaching effects on housing and construction. Most noticeable are issues around rising costs of materials from lumber to fixtures. One reason for the increased cost has been supply chain disruptions which have affected all markets and industries.

Addressing the Essential Housing Problem

At Grubb Properties, we believe we’ve found a solution to the housing gap that serves all stakeholders: investors, potential residents, and our broader community. In developing Link Apartments®, we focus on two key differentiators: location and price point. We select urban areas near community amenities, transit options, and employment anchors like research universities and medical centers. We also target affordable rents to residents earning 60-140% of the area’s median income.

How Grubb Properties Makes It Work

Given the severe nature of the current housing gap, Grubb Properties has organized our vertically integrated company completely around meeting this need. Our development program is solely focused on bringing Link Apartments® communities to desirable urban markets where essential housing is in the highest demand.

We understand the resident who needs and wants essential housing, and what matters most to them. We encourage residents to stay at our properties and build authentic communities. Our Long-Term Resident Program caps rents for any resident who has lived at our properties for at least five years. More than 8% of our residents are currently part of this program.

urban apartment living

The growing need for essential housing, combined with Grubb Properties’ years of experience in actualizing these creative methods, has us perfectly positioned as we come out of the current health and housing crises. There is no company better organized or better prepared to meet this critical moment.


For more information, visit our Grubb Properties website at to see how our investment perspective starts with principle.

essential housing