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Thread: Workforce versus affordable housing?

  1. #1
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    Workforce versus affordable housing?

    Any thoughts regarding the differences between "workforce" and "affordable" housing? I seems to me that "workforce" housing may be a bit more palatable to those who typical oppose "affordable" housing and all of its negative conotations.
    Is there a difference?
    Have any communities had more success promoting "workforce" housing rather than "affordable" housing? Or is all of this just semantics?
    Thanks-DUB

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    Merely a new word to describe something that most existing NIMBYs will still oppose. A marketing campaign slogan.

    We use it, too, all to get by the class bias (that is all too evident here sometimes ): Those needing "affordable housing" or, worse yet, "subsidized housing" are the undeserving criminal element. Thos in "workforce housing" are teachers' aides and cops and firemen.

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    Workforce Housing seems to be used in communities where housing prices are so high that normal working people (middle class) can't afford a home, Affordable Housing connotates housing for those at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder who.

  4. #4
    Are retirees eligible for workforce housing? Or do they need a special item of regulation called "previously-active workforce housing?"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    In London there is a lot of talk (and some action) about 'key worker' housing. This refers to cops, nurses, teachers etc., who cannot afford to live in London.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Are retirees eligible for workforce housing? Or do they need a special item of regulation called "previously-active workforce housing?"
    Jaws bring up an interesting issue. I was at a workshop last summer where an official from a Colorado mountain community spoke of this issue. Ski towns have had worker or workforce housing for 20 or so years now. What does a commumity do when these workers retire as some are now approaching retirement age? Do you kick the retired teacher, firefighter, policeman or planner out once their careers are over to make room for another worker or do you have to continue to build more of this type of housing? Its something these communities are only now thinking about.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I think the retiree issue is a different kind of housing, that is 55 plus affordable by deed - but how do you factor in that they sold their previous home for 5 times what they paid for? I guess it would be still by income annually...

    I say this because for me, the definition of affordable here is the median family income for the county (51k here), but more notably, you have to be a first time home buyer - most retirees are not first time home buyers

    What I find helps the NIMBY a little here is the emphasis on numbers - I rarely say affordable, I take the sentence time and say "what someone making around 51k can afford" - alot of NIMBY types that bought their house 25 years ago for a song then might think "well, hell, that's what I make" - it won't work on everyone, you'll never get them, but you might convert a few people

    But you speak of what I think is a big problem with affordable housing when it's a buyer, not a rental situation - someone buys a home, making the right income, first time home buyer, the whole deal, then 10 years later, they start doing well, move up the ladder at work, whatever, then they do additions to the house and never leave and have a messload of disposable income (which has some value of course to the local economy) while other people are struggling to find that first home that these people refuse to leave and upgrade to a market rate

    short of a socialist state, you can't really go after those people and say "hey move" - but I think you can do that in a rental situation by requiring a review of income every 2 years and if they retire and still hold that lower income, why can't they stay?

    for this reason, I am considering giving better incentives for rental affordable units than to the first time home buyer units - this way, people can rent at a reasonable rate in the hopes that they might save to purchase a market rate house -
    first time home buyer units sound more cool helping out young families, people just starting out - but they end up being a source of frustration

    it really boils down to the role of government in the marketplace - but I won't try to go there in this thread

    I do think that towns like mine (resort/tourist) may have to ge serious and build housing for its employees - we can't fill alot of our middle management positions becasue people can't afford to live here but their job requires them to be reasonably close by - but again, I'm diverging

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Are retirees eligible for workforce housing? Or do they need a special item of regulation called "previously-active workforce housing?"
    Your continuous inane sarcasm is not appreciated. DUB asked a valid question about effective methods to promote a desired public policy objective. It's a worthy subject for discussion. Please, stop your trolling.

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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Your continuous inane sarcasm is not appreciated. DUB asked a valid question about effective methods to promote a desired public policy objective. It's a worthy subject for discussion. Please, stop your trolling.
    Sadly, I don't this this is merely trolling. As we create these categories of special priveleges, you begin to run into these kinds of questions.

    Off-topic:
    Now, if he has said "Only the pure free market, which existed in some mythical past time period which has never existed, and the lovely untrammeled corporations, liberated from the evil hand of treacherous government, can provide affordable housing for everyone. Even if its only a noisome hovel, that's probably all the lower orders deserve, anyway" then it would be trolling. Except, doesn't trolling imply that you don't really believe that and are just posting something to get a rise out of people?

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    Thanks for the replies. I agree with luckless pedestrian's idea that many resort/tourism communities have to consider affordable housing programs in order to attract "middle management" types.

    Is this idea of affordable/workforce housing best offered to the community from this angle. That is, explaining that these types of workers are a necessary part of the community (and its economy) and they need to live there? Why can't these middle income types work in La Jolla/Telluride/Nantucket and live elsewhere? I realize the neagtive impacts surrounding the work one place and live someplace else arguement, but how do you persuade citizens/city council to go for this? Or even care about it?
    -DUB

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Your continuous inane sarcasm is not appreciated. DUB asked a valid question about effective methods to promote a desired public policy objective. It's a worthy subject for discussion. Please, stop your trolling.
    The desired public policy objective is ridiculous. If there is a housing problem, there is a housing problem for everyone. Creating discriminatory classes to privilege certain groups of people over others is just going to make it worse.

    There's only one solution to the problem: build more housing! Now of course increasing the supply of housing is going to lower the resale value of existing houses, so all the nimbys are going to be against that. That's why if you want a fair and just society, you don't listen to them.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I say cut the crap. Get rid of the spin and just tell people the damn truth.
    Here are some good ones
    Revenue enhanchment-taxes
    Sole sourcing-no bid contract
    Out sourcing-sub-contract out
    Human capital-employees
    Tax abatement-subsidy
    Improvised Explosive Device-Bomb

    Any others?

  13. #13
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DUB
    Is this idea of affordable/workforce housing best offered to the community from this angle. That is, explaining that these types of workers are a necessary part of the community (and its economy) and they need to live there? Why can't these middle income types work in La Jolla/Telluride/Nantucket and live elsewhere? I realize the neagtive impacts surrounding the work one place and live someplace else arguement, but how do you persuade citizens/city council to go for this? Or even care about it?
    -DUB
    I think if it's your chief elected officials you are appealing to, then roll out the stats, for instance

    response times - if the water division head lives 45 minutes or more away, and there's a water break, it will take that much longer to get the main fixed

    even more compelling are your EMT/ambulance people - if the ambulance driver has to come from an hour away and you're having a heart attack, that's not a good response time

    but before you go to the officials, you have to have your plan - are you going to require all new housing to set aside a number of units - how will they be monitored and administered - are you starting a fund that the town will be the lead for?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian
    I think if it's your chief elected officials you are appealing to, then roll out the stats, for instance

    response times - if the water division head lives 45 minutes or more away, and there's a water break, it will take that much longer to get the main fixed

    even more compelling are your EMT/ambulance people - if the ambulance driver has to come from an hour away and you're having a heart attack, that's not a good response time

    but before you go to the officials, you have to have your plan - are you going to require all new housing to set aside a number of units - how will they be monitored and administered - are you starting a fund that the town will be the lead for?
    Seems like these would only be issues if these people worked out of their houses. How many ambulance drivers keep the ambulance around back of the house and jump in whenever there is a call?

    Jaws question about retirees brings up another issue... what happens if a person who bought workforce housing decides to change careers? Are they forced to sell the home? Can they put it up for sale at market rate or do they have to sell it at an artificially low price like when they bought it? Or does the money invested by the government into creating that workforce housing just go down the drain when the school teacher decides to quit teaching and become a real estate agent or maybe a homemaker?
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

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    Cyburbian
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    A couple of thoughts. What we are all talking about here are "below market" opportunities. Thats really what we mean by affordable, right? Sometimes Nationwide distinctions are made between "affordable" and "workforce" housing by qualifying household income. Say affordable housing is for households making between 30 and 70 percent of the median ghousehold income. Workforce housing fits a segment a little higher, say between 70 and 120 of median household income--"the two teacher houshold example". Obviously these two types do not address the real working poor.

    The point is that communities should make an effort to provide a broad range of housing opportunities for all.

  16. #16
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle
    Seems like these would only be issues if these people worked out of their houses. How many ambulance drivers keep the ambulance around back of the house and jump in whenever there is a call?
    Here, they are on call, so yeah, they go to the station - so that's even worse, if they live 45 minutes or so away, right?

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle
    Jaws question about retirees brings up another issue... what happens if a person who bought workforce housing decides to change careers? Are they forced to sell the home? Can they put it up for sale at market rate or do they have to sell it at an artificially low price like when they bought it? Or does the money invested by the government into creating that workforce housing just go down the drain when the school teacher decides to quit teaching and become a real estate agent or maybe a homemaker?
    Depends on if you're talking about rental or owner-occupied.
    Rental is usually based on qualified incomes and once your earn your way out of that category, you're no longer qualified for the lower rental rates.
    Here, for people who buy affordable houses with some sort of subsidy (generally a nonprofit offering the house at low costs), the contract specifies they must stay in the house for 5 years, and if they leave before that, they must offer the nonprofit first right of refusal.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    The way to ensure the program continues is that the so called "affordable" or "workforce" units would stay by covenant or contract in the program for a period of time, say 15 years. Over that time the house could be sold to another qualified buyer, with the seller getting some set return, but not market. The only way the unit could return to the market is if a qualified buyer could not be identified within a set period of time.

  19. #19
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    The way to ensure the program continues is that the so called "affordable" or "workforce" units would stay by covenant or contract in the program for a period of time, say 15 years. Over that time the house could be sold to another qualified buyer, with the seller getting some set return, but not market. The only way the unit could return to the market is if a qualified buyer could not be identified within a set period of time.
    If an affordable unit is created in exchange for density bonuses then I would suggest the deed restriction is in perpetuity - they are getting more units than others in the district so if those units go back to market rate, then you've given up something without getting anything -

  20. #20
    I work as an advocate for affordable housing, and "generally" (in quotes because the definition changes from municipality to municipality) Affordable Housing is available to those who make 80% of the median income and below... Workforce Housing is available to those who earn 120% of the median income and below.

    It's true that the term is often used to be more palitable than affordable housing, which people often immediatley associate with the unlandscaped monolithic concrete housing projects of the past. Next Generation housing has begun to be used here on Long Island for the same PR type of purpose.

    Workforce Housing shouldn't really be an issue in areas of the country where the market rate for a home is within the price range for those who earn 120% of the median wage. It's only in areas where the housing bubble is most bloated that Workforce Housing is actually necessary.

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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    The way to ensure the program continues is that the so called "affordable" or "workforce" units would stay by covenant or contract in the program for a period of time, say 15 years. Over that time the house could be sold to another qualified buyer, with the seller getting some set return, but not market. The only way the unit could return to the market is if a qualified buyer could not be identified within a set period of time.
    California Redevelopment Law means we typicaly impose 45 year resale covenants on housing assisted with public redevelopment funds. Some cities in California do provide for equity share, i.e., major home improvements can be credited to you if you make bign improvements. One city, Davis, imposed no resale conmtrols or covenants at all, so the units were dumped on the private, unregulated market within five years.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    California Redevelopment Law means we typicaly impose 45 year resale covenants on housing assisted with public redevelopment funds. Some cities in California do provide for equity share, i.e., major home improvements can be credited to you if you make bign improvements. One city, Davis, imposed no resale conmtrols or covenants at all, so the units were dumped on the private, unregulated market within five years.
    So it turns out that all the affordable housing built by the government ended up having no effect at all on the affordability of housing, and more restrictions have to be imposed on the privileged "public" housing in order to exclude the people who cannot have such a privilege from getting affordable housing.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    So it turns out that all the affordable housing built by the government ended up having no effect at all on the affordability of housing, and more restrictions have to be imposed on the privileged "public" housing in order to exclude the people who cannot have such a privilege from getting affordable housing.
    Yep. Not much common sense shown by those designing the program. (Sorry, Davis). :

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