Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Eileen Sylvan Johnson


Affordable housing must expand quickly and cheaply to serve the needs of existing residents, along with the approximately 7 million Americans who need affordable housing but cannot access it (Buchanan 2020, 2). However, the industry must simultaneously meet sustainability goals to promote climate mitigation, as well as cater to long-unmet equity and environmental justice needs for its low-income, often BIPOC residents. The conflicts between sustainability and equity goals in affordable housing development challenges developers to consider procedural justice in drawing plans for new or renovated housing. For this study, I interviewed 16 housing developers and attended 2 construction meetings to answer the question: What are developers’ perceptions about community engagement and how does this shape their efforts to engage community members? I noted that 8 out of 16 of my interviewees expressed open hesitation about applying community engagement or stated that they generally do not include engagement in their planning processes whereas the other 8 openly encouraged it. However, all 16 interviewees shared anecdotes supporting that community engagement-- even those whose anecdotes expressed that the engagement was hesitant, unintentional, or informal-- is essential to the development of sustainable affordable housing. In this way, some developers’ hesitance to engage community members is a result of resource constraints, not because employing engagement is ineffective. This study highlights the extraordinary strengths of building procedural justice into the way we plan for an environmentally-sound future, both for the structures which we build and the people who create communities within them.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 16, 2029