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Communicating the Benefits of Multigenerational Housing

How Strategic Messaging Can Shape Neighborhood Culture and Overcome Development Challenges

Multigenerational Housing

Effective marketing, communications, and community engagement are crucial for various real estate developments. Whether it's filling a targeted occupancy rate for a new hotel, attracting new tenants to a commercial mixed-use space, or earning the trust of regulatory agencies and neighbors for a converted historical property, marketing and communications are key to success. Beyond that, they can also drive lasting change, influence perceptions, and shape neighborhood culture.

Recently, our team was captivated by the Urban Land Institute’s report, “Making Multigenerational Communities Happen.” According to the Pew Research Center, the number of people living in multigenerational households quadrupled between 1971 and 2021. This surge has led to increased demand for housing and neighborhoods that can accommodate such households.

The report outlines several primary barriers that stand in the way of multigenerational living:

  • Insufficiently diverse housing units that lack the space and design characteristics needed to accommodate multiple family members of different generations and their needs.

  • Inadequate neighborhood infrastructure and built environment features, including limited multimodal transportation options and insufficient services and supports, such as healthcare.

  • Zoning and land use regulations that restrict the location and scale of diverse housing types.

  • Lack of affordability for the limited number of homes and neighborhoods suitable for multigenerational living.

You may be wondering: “How does this related at all to marketing or communications?”

Our response: in almost every way possible.

What fundamental considerations need to be addressed to enact change? Before anything else, it all starts with grassroots messaging. Garnering support early on is essential.

Participants in the report and Shaw Forum emphasized “the need to change narratives and messaging related to the benefits of multigenerational living as well as the need to share successful examples.” They also stressed the importance of addressing policy and institutional barriers to building multigenerational housing and communities.

Narratives around housing and neighborhood development should communicate the numerous benefits of multigenerational living, including economic security, improved health, community connection, and mutual care. These narratives should also aim to align stakeholders around the goal of providing inclusive housing that can adapt to changing household needs.

“To make multigenerational communities happen, all groups must advance new narratives about the demand for, and benefits of, multigenerational living and they must work to create and implement conducive public policies.”

A summary of the full report can be found here. The full report can be found here.

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