Evolution of Adaptive Reuse

Adaptive reuse refers to the practice of repurposing an existing structure for a new use. This has long held promise in development generally and for affordable housing in particular, as these projects can be less costly, quicker to complete, and more environmentally friendly than new construction.

As the onset of the global pandemic in 2020 exacerbated the affordable housing shortage across the country, increasing housing instability and creating delays in preservation and construction projects alike, major shifts were also taking place in the hotel and office industry, as occupancy rates plummeted following travel restrictions, and companies saw decreasing demand for office space.

The pandemic’s upheaval of the real estate market created a unique opportunity for adaptive reuse, particularly for affordable housing. Amidst heavy competition from investors, however, nonprofit developers, HPN members among them, struggled to acquire these available properties and take advantage of unprecedented levels of public resources that emerged to support preservation during the pandemic.

The Cohort and Intended Impact

With generous funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation, HPN launched the Adaptive Reuse Conversion Accelerator Program (ARCAP) in 2021 to catalyze fifteen member organizations’ ability to acquire hotels and other property types for adaptive reuse to increase the supply of affordable housing and support longer-term housing stability across the country.

The program was designed to fund projects in various stages of development, ranging from early stage, exploratory projects to those under construction.

ARCAP Funded Projects Map pptx 7

ARCAP is supporting over 20 projects, intended to create 1,300+ new units of affordable housing through adaptive reuse across several project types: Hotel/Motel (9), School (6), Commercial/Office (3), Hospital (1), Other (1).

The fifteen ARCAP cohort participants operate nationally and collectively have developed over 68,000 affordable housing units within their respective communities. Through the program, members are expected to create 1,300+ new units of permanent affordable housing across the county.

ARCAP Testimonial 3

Practitioner-Based Learnings

Peer exchange is essential to enhancing and strengthening our member organizations’ understanding, performance, and capacity. Since 2021, ARCAP participants have met regularly to exchange ideas, share best practices, and crowdsource solutions to common challenges, helping to build the case for continued investments in adaptive reuse.

Learn more by downloading our recent ARCAP industry report, which details early findings from the cohort’s 15 nonprofit affordable housing developers.

Participating Members


Manuel Muelle

VP Membership & Peer Exchange

Sam Brown

Program Consultant