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Thread: Affordable housing occupancy standards

  1. #1
    Member
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    Apr 2002
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    City of Davis
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    Affordable housing occupancy standards

    We're trying to get some consistency in our various affordable rental projects on occupancy levels (and how they relate to income limits and rents). I would appreciate knowing how other communities deal with this; ordinances and policies would be especially helpful.

    1. On locally-subsidized or regulated complexes, we usually have a provision that there be no fewer than one person per bedroom in an affordable unit. Our belief is that the purpose of the program is to provide shelter for people, not home offices or sewing rooms. Plus, we generally base affordable rents on a presumed number of occupants (eg 3 perople in a 2BR unit) and smaller households would be - by definition - overpaying. One of our developers is balking at being forced to "discriminate" against small families or single people - any advice?

    2. The local ordinance - like state and federal law - states that affordable rent is adjusted by household size. The strict interpretation would be that two-person family would pay a lot less for a 3BR apartment than would a 4-person family. This can be impractical (for family and developer) so we generally build in a presumed number of occupants. Most of the time we've used number-of-bedrooms-plus-one; sometimes we've used one-and-a-half-persons per-bedroom. Has anyone else done this? State and federal citations would also be appreciated.

  2. #2
    First I want to ask if you're a non-profit or are you using any HUD money in your developments?

    In either case your delema is one that a lot of non-profits face but there are two very important things you need to think about. First, the Fair Housing Act (you can get this from hud.gov) won't allow you to place minimum occupancy levels on your appartments. If a family of two wants to rent a three bedroom you have to let them. Your only option for this is to limit the income levels that can rent certain apartments. For example, you could set your 3 bdr unit rents at $500 and limit the percentage of income to rent at 30%. That means that any family making more than $1500 (or around that) wouldn't be able to rent the unit. You still can't control the number of people in the unit but it would allow the units to reach your target affordablilty levels.

    If your not a non-profit, I would like to know who is going to fund your development as a for profit venture. Rent caps and affordable housing usually doesn't get created without some governemnt subsidy. But if you can tell me how, I would be very grateful.

    Good luck with your project and write back if you need me to clarify anything.

    Sincerely,

    David W. Danenfelzer
    Housing Specialist
    The Enterprise Foundation
    Austin, TX

  3. #3
    Member
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    Apr 2002
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    City of Davis
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    11
    We are the local government (and we're here to help!). The particular project is one with no state or federal assistance, although some of our projects do have outside subsidies. This particular project is inclusionary only. We are also experimenting with sole-source financing for some of our affordable apartments - 100% city/RDA loans.

    I know the gist of many federal regs - but didn't think they went into the exact details of rent calculations.

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