The Patterns of a Conservation Economy
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The old Belmont Dairy has been gracefully converted to a grocery store and housing.
Image by Katy Langstaff.

Shelter For All

Many people in the bioregion live in substandard, unhealthy housing. For others, housing costs are so high that their household's financial security is endangered.

Housing types vary widely in cost, density, suitability for different population groups, and support of Community. When housing types lack variety, it is more difficult to sustain both Cultural Diversity and a mix of income levels. Monolithic neighborhoods tend to physically separate generation from generation, disconnect people from their jobs, and isolate both rich and poor.

In a Human-Scale Neighborhood, a wide mix of housing types make it possible for people of all ages, classes, and family configurations to live in close proximity. Detached houses, small "granny flats" in backyards, duplexes, rowhouses, apartment buildings, co-housing, and other types provide a continuum of affordability and privacy. If designed properly, higher density can yield both greater affordability and an enhanced sense of community. Humane and healthy dwellings are a . The ownership of such dwellings is a critical foundation of Social Equity.

Even neighborhoods built without a diversity of housing types can be retrofitted and infilled to increase the range of choices and densities. With the agreement of neighbors, adjacent buildings can share yards, gardens, and common buildings; infill cottages and flats can be added; streets can be slowed down and circulation patterns altered.

Affordable housing is critical to providing Shelter for All. It should be constructed using Green Building techniques that minimize toxicity, enhance indoor air quality, emphasize natural light, and reduce utility bills. Green affordable housing has lower maintenance costs and makes an important contribution to the Health of its residents.

It is essential to maintain policies in support of affordable housing, along with a community-based financial infrastructure that supports homeownership.

Promote a mix of housing types in every neighborhood, accommodating a wide range of income levels. Establish strong policies in support of affordable housing construction and homeownership. Use green building techniques when constructing affordable housing.

Examples of this pattern in action:

Transfer Development Rights
As part of a larger package of tools and techniques to help protect the Lake Whatcom Watershed, the Whatcom County Council adopted (in December of 1999) amendments to the county zoning ordinance and maps to enable a Transferable Development Rights program…

Belmont Dairy Rowhouses
This row house project is the second phase of a two-block redevelopment project in the Sunnyside neighborhood of southeast Portland. It reuses an infill site and addresses the problem of how to increase density while fitting into the existing urban fabric. The developer worked with the City of Portland to meet the City's goals for compact, pedestrian-oriented development that would fit in well between the single-family neighborhood to the north and high-density commercial street to the south of the project. The project features a landscaped pedestrian courtyard separating two C-shaped clusters of row houses. Garages are located off private auto courts. The public side of the project features balconies, decks, and bay windows; the courtyard side features small private gardens and stone paving. The Belmont Dairy Rowhouses show that high density and livability can be brought together in a very marketable package.

City Life
A remarkable partnership of public, private and non-profit members created a steering committee committed to the belief that infill housing could be attractive, affordable and marketable. Located within Portland's Brooklyn neighborhood, City Life demonstrated how to build moderate density in existing neighborhoods which was compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. Included in the project were REACH Community Development; Portland General Electric; the City of Portland Bureau of Planning; the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland; the American Institute of Architects/Portland Chapter; West One Bank; and Livable Oregon.

Infill Lots in Walnut Park in Portland, OR
These 16 townhomes on infill lots in the Walnut Park area, an urban neighborhood in Northeast Portland, were developed by the Northeast Community Development Corporation (NECDC). The project goal was affordable home ownership for first time homebuyers with low to moderate incomes. The jury recognized this project for its contribution to the overall revitalization of the neighborhood by using infill lots to construct new homes which are both affordable and reminiscent of existing architecture in the neighbrhood. The homes are within walking distance of the Walnut Park Community Policing and Retail facility, also a Governor's Livability Award winner, as well as area services, churches, and the Boys and Girls Club

Organizations whose work incorporate this pattern:

Liveable Oregon


Brand, Stewart. How Buildings Learn; What Happens After They're Built. Penguin USA. New York, NY. 1995.

Smart, Eric. Making Infill Projects Work. Urban Land Institute. Washington, DC. 1985.

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Pattern Index

A Conservation Economy

Social Capital

Fundamental Needs

Subsistence Rights

Shelter For All


Access To Knowledge


Social Equity


Cultural Diversity

Cultural Preservation

Sense Of Place

Beauty And Play

Just Transitions

Civic Society

Natural Capital

Ecological Land-Use

Connected Wildlands

Core Reserves

Wildlife Corridors

Buffer Zones

Productive Rural Areas

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Forestry

Sustainable Fisheries


Compact Towns And Cities

Human-Scale Neighborhoods

Green Building

Transit Access

Ecological Infrastructure

Urban Growth Boundaries

Ecosystem Services

Watershed Services

Soil Services

Climate Services


Economic Capital

Household Economies

Green Business

Long-Term Profitability

Community Benefit

Green Procurement

Renewable Energy

Sustainable Materials Cycles

Resource Efficiency

Waste As Resource

Product As Service

Local Economies

Value-Added Production

Rural-Urban Linkages

Local Assets

Bioregional Economies

Fair Trade

True Cost Pricing

Product Labeling