For Overlooked Populations, Purpose-Driven Housing Represents Hope


Courtesy of Moody Nolan

According to a 2023 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “no state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest income renters.” And this is impacting households of color at a disproportionate rate.

Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics are more likely than their white counterparts “to be extremely low-income renters – with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30% of their area median income – for whom there is a dire shortage of affordable and available homes.”

The housing gap is a dire problem—there are only 33 affordable rental homes that are available for every 100 renters that need access to low-income rental properties. This is leading to a housing shortage of over 7.3 million rental homes for households below or at the federal poverty line.

But, in the midst of this affordable housing crisis, Moody Nolan, the largest Black-owned and operated architectural firm in the country and winner of the American Institute of Architects’ 2021 Architecture Firm Award, is stepping in with a solution.

As Moody Nolan Partner and Director of Housing Yanitza Brongers-Marrero, FAIA, NOMA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, LEED For Homes told ESSENCE, “Our firm is driven by a desire to create more visibility around the nation’s homelessness and affordable housing crisis, and the reality is that historically underserved and overlooked populations are the most vulnerable.”

“The rising cost of housing not only perpetuates a cycle of homelessness but excludes millions of renters from purchasing a home, limiting their ability to build generational wealth,” Brongers-Marrero continued.

“We understand architecture and design firms have a role to play here, so we’ve made it our mission to engage in work that offers dire housing opportunities to these communities,” added Brongers-Marrero. “Affordable housing solutions not only provide secure housing, they foster hope, self-worth, and the opportunity for these underserved populations to thrive. Among our projects in particular, some have helped revitalize distressed neighborhoods, provided otherwise unavailable resources, and created community among its residents.”

Moody Nolan’s goal? To create projects that are specifically catered to serve communities that have historically been marginalized or overlooked. The Legacy Project is one of Moody Nolan’s philanthropic efforts wherein they are providing “a fully-furnished home to a recipient in need in each of the 12 cities the firm has an office, modeling a new approach to corporate giving and our response to the affordable housing crisis,” said Brongers-Marrero.

“Each house is fully donor funded, exhibiting a guiding principle of Moody Nolan that architecture has the power to uplift and empower an entire community. We hope to not only help under-served populations build generational wealth, but to inspire others to join us or create an initiative of their own to help address our nation’s housing crisis,” Brongers-Marrero stated.

For Overlooked Populations, Purpose-Driven Housing Represents Hope
Courtesy of Moody Nolan

Another project of Moody Nolan even “caters to women of color.” “As a ‘residential incubator,’ Zora’s House…[is] providing resources and support needed to lead, create, and contribute to the community in a meaningful way.” Brongers-Marrero shared how “[i]t is the largest real estate development project by a Black woman-led organization in the Midwest, and the only co-working space for women of color in the state of Ohio. The site was formerly home to a corner store that had become a magnet for crime, so having Zora’s House take over the lot speaks to the resiliency of the neighborhood.”

Ultimately, “[a]ffordable housing solutions can come in different forms, depending on the population you’re hoping to serve,” says Brongers-Marrero. “At Moody Nolan, we practice responsive design, pairing empathetic listening with innovative thinking to find harmony between client, community, and environment.”


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