Precast Concrete Delivers Affordable Housing 

While housing is a fundamental human necessity, many Americans find it increasingly difficult to obtain affordable homes. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of about 6.8 million affordable homes for our nation's 10.8 million-plus extremely low-income families. If housing costs account for less than 30% of a household's total income, it is "affordable". Seventy percent of extremely low-income families are severely cost-burdened, paying more than half of their income on rent. 

Supply and Demand 

The conversation around affordable housing frequently revolves around supply. It is estimated that the supply of affordable housing units built annually is around 111,000 units - falling tremendously short of the demand. Over 40,000 people applied for the housing lottery at Prospect Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, yet there were only 106 available units, highlighting the severity of the affordable housing crisis. 

Prospect Plaza, a total precast building in the Ocean Hill Brownsville community of Brooklyn owned by the New York Housing Authority, delivered affordable housing to NYC residents. The use of precast concrete and installing "game-changer" prefabricated bathroom pods accelerated the construction schedule significantly - saving 2 months in the timeline. 

Precast Concrete Provides the Solution

Precast concrete elements are fabricated in PCI-certified plants. This enables the design and construction of a significant number of appropriate residences on time and at a competitive cost to address the affordable housing crisis. Providing affordable housing is a challenging undertaking. Precast concrete is the solution for many reasons, and all stakeholders, from owners/developers to designers, housing authorities, and the low-income occupant, benefit immensely. 

Precast Concrete Affordable Housing Provides Benefits for ALL Stakeholders


Owner Benefits

With a long-life cycle and inherent resiliency, precast concrete ensures that owners have a structure that withstands hurricanes, storms, and blasts and will serve the community for generations.

Precast concrete's low maintenance decreases the lifetime cost of maintaining the structure. The construction speed of precast structures equates to early occupancy for the new tenants. 

Designer Benefits

Through various textures, formliners, and colors, precast concrete allows designers to create a building that provides architecturally pleasing designs to owners and residents. Precast allows for long spans that maximize daylight and create enormous flexibility so that buildings can be reconfigured and used for changing purposes throughout their lifetimes. Precast insulated wall panels meet passive house requirements for the building envelope. The thermal mass effect of the concrete can significantly reduce the energy consumed to heat and cool buildings. 

Precast concrete demonstrates that it can be part of the Stronger Buildings initiative and will make people, property, and infrastructure more resilient to natural and manmade events. 

Contractor Benefits

Precast provides a fast, cost-effective, competitive solution and is not as susceptible to supply chain issues. Prices remain more stable over time compared to other building materials.

Precast components can be integrated with other building materials such as windows, insulation, and electrical in the precast plant, thereby reducing the labor and equipment required on site. Once the components are completed, they are transported to the job site and quickly installed in any weather condition, reducing construction schedules. 

Occupant Benefits

Precast is an inherent material that does not emit VOCs or provide a surface for mold to grow. Precast concrete provides residents a safe environment by withstanding natural and manmade disasters and disturbances. Precast is naturally fire-resistant and offers greater protection against fire threats, protecting lives and property. 

The use of precast hollowware for ceilings and floors provides excellent sound reduction attributes, giving residents a quiet space.

The thermal mass effect in precast absorbs thermal mass-energy and slowly releases it, which may result in overall energy savings for residents.

Explore these Real-World Examples to see how Precast Concrete Delivers Affordable Housing


The apartments at Redfern House  - a nine-building, 604-unit New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) development, were flooded and without power and heat for weeks after Hurricane Sandy. NYCHA chose precast to complete upgrades to infrastructure, including an electrical service building and a boiler plant. A new community center and daycare facility were constructed to replace the severely damaged structure. With insulated precast wall panels, NYCHA and residents don't have to worry. They now have a fully protected, elevated building that will serve as a shelter should a similar weather event occur. 

The Nelson Mandela apartments' design solution of a 100% precast concrete structure features precast floors that deliver excellent sound mitigation and a thermal envelope featuring highly insulated walls, windows, and roofs which should result in lower utility bills for the residents. This project was completed in only 5 months and earned Energy Star and Enterprise Green Communities certifications. 

Terrace 459 at Parkside of Old Town in Chicago, IL, highlights the speed of construction with the owner's desire for an economic system that could quickly bring scale and design options to the building. The precast wall panels come down to grade and connect the apartments to the street, offering light and visibility into the first-floor residential common areas. The precast wall panels come down to grade and connect the apartments to the street, offering light and visibility into the first-floor residential common areas. 

Precast Concrete Provides the Answer to the Nation's Affordable Housing Crisis

The construction of affordable housing is not truly affordable when built with traditional building materials. There is a significant disparity between the costs of constructing and maintaining these buildings and the rents most people can afford.

Precast concrete manufacturers can reduce costs and risks by shortening schedules and reducing onsite trades. Precast concrete provides innovative solutions for owners, developers, and contractors while providing safe and affordable housing for occupants. The numerous advantages of precast concrete for all stakeholders make it the preferred building material to alleviate the nation's affordable housing deficit. 

Visit these PCINE resources for more insight into precast concrete's benefits 


Free PCI Manual for the Design of Hollow Core Slabs

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VIDEO - How Precast Stands Up to Fires