UF College of Design, Construction and Planning Receives $500,000 Gift from Wachovia Foundation to Research Affordable Housing

Published: June 22 2007

Category:Announcements, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As housing costs have skyrocketed, the availability of affordable housing has declined. The issue has become critical throughout Florida as communities try to ensure that people of all income levels have access to affordable housing.

A $500,000 gift from the Wachovia Foundation to the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning will allow researchers to address the state’s affordable — housing issues by identifying and assessing the suitability of sites for affordable housing development and preservation.

“Wachovia is extremely proud to partner with and support the University of Florida in this innovative research. We believe that everyone deserves a safe, stable place to live, which is why we have made community development one of our top priorities,” said Robert Helms, Florida CEO for Wachovia.

The three-year grant will support an interdisciplinary research project in the college between the department of urban and regional planning and the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing, located in the Rinker School of Building Construction.

“Wachovia’s funding of this project allows us to bring together the expertise of the Shimberg Center, the research and knowledge of the department of urban and regional planning and the cutting-edge spatial analysis available through the department’s GeoPlan Center,” said William O’Dell, associate director and manager of the Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse in the Shimberg Center.

O’Dell will work with assistant professor Kristin Larsen and associate professor Ilir Bejleri from urban and regional planning to create a model that will assist Florida communities in evaluating and ranking the areas identified as suitable for affordable housing. The software and mapping tool they create will be unique in that it will incorporate the local values and vision of the communities with which they work. A critical component of the process is seeking and receiving community input through public hearings and meetings.

“We plan to work with three case study communities. We are already beginning to work with Jacksonville, and we hope to identify two other communities who are interested in working with us,” Larsen said.

“The community-based solutions that will result from this model represent an exciting potential breakthrough in the Florida affordable housing market. Wachovia is delighted to be a part of this evolution and to be a catalyst for community development in Florida,” said Michelle Braun, Florida Community Relations Executive for Wachovia.


Kristin Larsen, klarsen@ufl.edu, 352-392-0997, ext. 433
William O’Dell, billo@ufl.edu, 352-273-1171
Kathy Harrison, kathy.harrison@wachovia.com, 904-489-3602

Category:Announcements, Top Stories