How 3D printing can be the solution to the nation’s affordable housing crisis

April Stringfield has rented apartments since her early twenties, and often worked two to three jobs to make ends meet. Fueled by the desire to own a home, she applied for affordable housing provided by Habitat for Humanity.

She and her teenage son just moved into their new, 1,200-square-feet-home in Williamsburg, Virginia, constructed with the help of a 3D printer.

“It’s unbelievable,” Stringfield, 35, said. “It’s like a dream come true.”

Habitat for Humanity selected her home as its first 3D-printed project. Initiated between a partnership with Alquist, a 3D-printing construction company, it is the organization’s effort to confront the nation’s affordable housing crisis, which increased due to multiple factors including the heightened costs of materials during the pandemic and a booming demand on the housing market.

According to a March 2020 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, extremely low-income renters — households with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30 percent of the area median income — face a housing shortage of 7 million available and affordable rental homes. The report also found that the lack of affordable housing is prevalent in communities of color with 71 percent of Black, extremely low-income renters spending more than half of their income on housing.

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