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Thread: Affordable Housing for County

  1. #1
    Nov 2004
    Brooklyn, NY

    Affordable Housing for County


    I'm looking for some affordable housing programs that would work for a county that doesn't have zoning jurisdiction. because of this we can't give any density bonuses our only real incentive that we can give is really a 'fast-tracking' of subdivision proposals that come in. (The county has sub-division control). This 'fast-tracking' could give some limited incentive to developers to have set-asides for affordable housing but I don't really think that any developer will go through with this because of the high price of land and housing in the county.

    I haven't really found any examples of county incentives that have worked for counties that don't have zoning authority. Obv, Montgomery County is what we're looking to as an example but they have zoning authority.

    If anyone has any ideas...please let me know.

    Thanks, Todd

  2. #2
    Cyburbian chasqui's avatar
    Feb 2003
    DFW Metroplex, TX


    There are a number of options available to provide incentives for the creation of new affordable housing which do not include zoning. While inclusionary zoning type tools are useful, they are not the only option. Not only should you look to create new housing but also look to maintain existing affordable stock.
    Here are some ideas:
    • Self-help initiatives such as a 'compliance store'
    • Establish an abatement program for housing rehabilitation (with affordability caps)
    • Assist those producing low-income housing / your non-profit housing developers through measures such as direct and project specific technical assistance, or creating a land acquisition fund
    • Create a housing incentive program, including Section 108 loan guarantees, TIF (if possible), LIHTC support, etc
    Are you doing an affordable housing study? Where are your gaps? The measures you implement should reflect where affordability is lacking. Is it in senior housing? Large families? Definitely coordinate with the housing authority.
    PM me if you want to bounce some ideas around.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    Definitely listen to Chasqui! I think the most important aspect of his recommendations is identifying the demographic that is in need of affordable housing. This will guide your approach.

    I wasn't sure if the "land acquisition fund" he referred to is the same as land banking, but that would be another option. In this scenario, the County would buy properties and make them available to developers of affordable housing, perhaps making it more attractive by either subsidizing the land cost, or simply locking in the land cost for future "at cost" sales (the County buys it today and three years from now sells it at 2006 prices).

    There is also the possibility of a Community Land Trust model in which the land costs and building costs are separated. A non-profit holds the land and the structures are sold to the buyer for a greatly reduced cost. They then maintain a 99 year renewable lease with the land trust. Most commonly, CLTs are initiated by community groups (such as at the Sawmill Community Land Trust here in Albuquerque - http://www.swclt.org) but some municipalities have organized them as well (see the Portland Community Land Trust - http://www.pclt.org/).

    The Institute for Community Economics came up with the Community Land Trust model. They have great information - http://www.iceclt.org/clt/

    The abatement program mentioned is also a good approach. When in Pittsburgh a little while ago, I noticed that many properties acquired by the City because of back taxes and the like were offered with low interest mortgages and housing improvement funds to serve as incetives for redeveloping neglected areas of the City. In a place like that, with so much well built housing stock, it seemed wiser to offer incentives for rehabbing than tearing out those wonderful brick homes.
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