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Thread: Definition of "Affordable Housing?"

  1. #1
    Member simulcra's avatar
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    Definition of "Affordable Housing?"

    So I keep reading in these articles that Chicago's latest attempts at public housing (those mixed income developments) have some part market value, some part affordable, and some part public housing, like the oakland park stuff near cabrini-green.

    my big question is, what defines affordable housing, if it's not at market value?? is it like some % of market value or what? i haven't seen any numbers or definition of it (despite the fact that the central area plan makes gratuitous use of it in one of the sections).

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Re: Definition of "Affordable Housing?"

    Originally posted by Solipsa
    So I keep reading in these articles that Chicago's latest attempts at public housing (those mixed income developments) have some part market value, some part affordable, and some part public housing, like the oakland park stuff near cabrini-green.

    my big question is, what defines affordable housing, if it's not at market value?? is it like some % of market value or what? i haven't seen any numbers or definition of it (despite the fact that the central area plan makes gratuitous use of it in one of the sections).
    It's a euphanisim for "subsidized housing." Kinda like Section 8, iirc. Not sure where the money comes from, I imagine it'd depend on the program. It's very important to have it around, especially as rents rise in the city. We don't want whole neighborhoods full of nothing but yuppies.

    There's a great law that requires developers to build 10% (iirc) of all new developments as affordable housing, but it got neutered by a rider that allowed developers just to pay their way out of it.

  3. #3

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    Affordable housing is usually defined by the incomes of the populations served. According to HUD standards, the population is divided into "very-low income" (below 50% of the median income), "low income" (below 80%), and moderate income (81-120%). "Affordable" housing generally means housing priced to cost no more than 30% of the income at each income level. jordanb is right that there are a variety of programs that can fund such housing. Section 8 is actually a pretty limited "tool" in most cities toolbox of programs. California cities, for example, must use 20% of their tax increment revenues (TIF/redevelopment) for affordable housing.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Here's the Philadelphia definition of "Affordable Housing"

    Find the most stable, working, middle-class neighborhoods in the city and start throwing in Section 8 housing, thereby allowing families who've seldom worked throughout their whole lives the opportunity to move into said neighborhood. Section 8 breeds more Section 8 and in 10 years your once beautiful neighborhood looks like Compton, CA.


    If you want housing to be affordable you need to go to school, get an education, and then a good job. Then you can afford to buy a house.

    *Rant over*

  5. #5
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    "affordable housing" is an oxymoron...
    affordable housing doesn't really exist.... I like the term "attainable housing"
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by Mike D.
    Here's the Philadelphia definition of "Affordable Housing"

    Find the most stable, working, middle-class neighborhoods in the city and start throwing in Section 8 housing, thereby allowing families who've seldom worked throughout their whole lives the opportunity to move into said neighborhood. Section 8 breeds more Section 8 and in 10 years your once beautiful neighborhood looks like Compton, CA.


    If you want housing to be affordable you need to go to school, get an education, and then a good job. Then you can afford to buy a house.

    *Rant over*
    I agree with the essence of what you said. The solution is not just to put people into "housing," it is to give them the skills and employment they need to attain housing on their own. At the same time, you have to recognize that there is a real "jobs-housing" inbalance in some places. Huge swaths of California are not affordable to any household earning less than triple digits. Most metros have areas that are also completely unaffordable to people with "average" incomes.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    OK and why is that a bad thing? If a bunch of brain surgeons want to get together and form a community of $3M houses so that undesirables can't afford to move in, why not let them.

    The argument by the CD people in Philly is...everyone should have access to these "nicer" neighborhoods. But when everyone has access to them they go to shit. Period. My old neighborhood and all of those surrounding it have property values of less than $50K when 10 years ago they were in excess of $150K (which is alot by Philly standards).

    Philly's population is declining by droves and a large part of it is because of Section 8. Once one house on a block goes Section 8 the entire block moves out, and the rest of the houses are sold Section 8 because there is already a Section 8 presence on the block. It makes me sick. It really does.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by Mike D.
    OK and why is that a bad thing?
    The problem comes up when there is a need for workers but they can't afford to live anywhere close to the jobs. The old model of a central downtown served by good transit worked pretty well, but in the suburbs it is nothing but a problem. I'm not advocating for making housing for "white trash" in good neighborhoods, but I do think there is a problem when a household earning $50,000 a year can't afford to purchase any home (as is the case in California), or when that same family has to live twenty or thirty miles from their jobs in the Chicago suburbs.

  9. #9
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    or when that same family has to live twenty or thirty miles from their jobs in the Chicago suburbs.
    Then there are those that simply choose to live far from where they work. I could easily live in the muni. I work for, but I choose not to because it is not the type of built environment that agrees with me.

    But living in metro-Chi is overpriced. Since people keep flowing into my area, the suppliers (developers/leasors) can charge high prices due to the demand (the American Dream/zoning) in certain areas.

    I have yet to reconcile the paradox of housing in metro-Chi. Housing is quite expensive, but there is certainly no shortage. It can be traced directly to the society here: ie social stigmas and fear.
    Last edited by mendelman; 11 Aug 2003 at 10:57 AM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    housing

    Some of the staff here had a little discussion with one of the county commissioners about affordable housing. The irony of the discussion was that none of the staff members present, including the director and myself, could afford to live in the county we work in. And we're quasi-professionals. The one planner who does live in the county has a wife who has a good job at a Cleveland hospital. Even so, with both incomes, they're "mortage poor." I live in Akron where there are a lot of relatively inexpensive houses. Many of them are obsolete by today's standards but they're better than renting.
    WALSTIB

  11. #11
    Tom R, I have to ask for clarification - I presume you work in Cuyahoga County but live in Akron? I'm under the impression that while the housing in Greater Cleveland is pricier than the rest of northeast Ohio, it's still a bargain by national standards.

    If I may ask what sort of housing/neighborhoods do you find desirable, and what factors are influential to you? My partner and I don't have children nor plan to, so a good school system would be secondary to say, proximity to work. I'd really be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

  12. #12

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    Originally posted by mendelman
    I have yet to reconcile the paradox of housing in metro-Chi. Housing is quite expensive, but there is certainly no shortage. It can be traced directly to the society here: ie social stigmas and fear.
    At least in Chicago's case, expensive housing in some areas is the price people pay for segregation. Don't misinterpret this to mean that this is a conscious racial choice that people are making; it's the way the housing market is set up in this metro area.

    On a regional scale, there is a larger-than-expected demand for housing in the north, northwest and western suburbs, and prices go up accordingly. That demand is artificially high because there are people who would never consider looking for a home elsewhere, no matter what the cost. There is a smaller-than-expected demand for housing in the southwest and south suburbs, and prices go down accordingly. That demand is artificially low because there are people who would never consider looking for a home here, no matter what the cost.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Originally posted by pete-rock
    At least in Chicago's case, expensive housing in some areas is the price people pay for segregation. Don't misinterpret this to mean that this is a conscious racial choice that people are making; it's the way the housing market is set up in this metro area.
    I think this is a very true reason why people pay inflated prices for certain neighborhoods in many cities. This and the prestige to say, “ yes, come by and see me I live on piney shady mossy oak way in the ‘Woods’ district”. (made-up names, of coarse)

    Edit: and segregation is not limited to race, but also economic status often plays more of a front role.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    nope

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by MayDay
    [B]Tom R, I have to ask for clarification - I presume you work in Cuyahoga County but live in Akron? I'm under the impression that while the housing in Greater Cleveland is pricier than the rest of northeast Ohio, it's still a bargain by national standards.

    Nope. I work in Medina County.
    WALSTIB

  15. #15

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    Originally posted by Huston
    I think this is a very true reason why people pay inflated prices for certain neighborhoods in many cities. This and the prestige to say, “ yes, come by and see me I live on piney shady mossy oak way in the ‘Woods’ district”. (made-up names, of coarse)

    Edit: and segregation is not limited to race, but also economic status often plays more of a front role.
    Yup. People have on the whole chosen to segregate economically, and one of the results of this is greater racial segregation in some areas.

  16. #16
    Member Nemesis's avatar
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    I lived in Cleveland for two years(Lakewood).. FYI.Lakewood should be in the sausage forum too.) and 5 other regions in the northeast over the past 15 years. Cleveland can be very nice and affordable. Yes, they have "issues" but compared to where I currently live in Maryland, Cleveland was a wonderful experience. A mid level planner should be able to live in Cayahoga county. There are certainly McMansion suburbs with high mortagages and no furniture inside, but there are areas of nice affordable living. I can/t forget the bars and bar crawls almost monthly of Cleveland.........

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Affordable housing by definition in the region I work is along the lines of BKM's definition. It is not Section 8 nor is it subsidized in the general sense.

    Developers are required to provide a certain percentage 6% 10% 12% whatever of "affordable units" The builders often get "bonus" units/density for providing the affordable units. Affordable units are priced below market rate and are available to qualifying buyers who meet the program criteria, such as they earn 70% of the average household income by census or something like that.

    Affordable house here is intended to provided housing to the schoolteacher, cop, fireman, first time homebuying couple.

    In some cases builders are afforded a buyout opportunity. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it can go to the a public/private housing authority who build their own Affordable units.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    This is a good article about "affordable" housing in Rumson, NJ as mandated by NJ's Mt. Laurel laws.

    This is the same town that's home to Richie Sambora (of Bon Jovi fame), the Boss, and of course -Geraldo. Connie Cheung and Maury Povich have a house across the river in Navesink. As would be expected in a town full of rich people they've come up with a clever 'free market' solution to avoid having to build 300+ units of affordable housing.

    the stats:
    per-capita income - $73,692
    average household -$120,865

    white(non-hispanic): 6908
    black:17
    Latino:99
    Asian:76

    The census says that the median home value is around $350k
    but this must be from the tax assesor. For better accuracy check the listings. My guess is that 80% of median income is going to get you a house that costs about $280k (Sea Bright is a different municipality sharing the Rumson zip code)
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  19. #19
    I have just done a big Urban proposal project, and small to medium mixed types of housing units. After doing the project i did come across a book called the Small Houses by Nicolas Pope.

    At the beginning it did have a quote from the founder of Taoism 500BC, saying that in order to understand complex things, or big things, one must first look/understand small/simple things.

    I said, well fair enough, another poncey asshole talking about Architecture, what is new. But having leaved through the book, which is a nice collection of tiny like sub 100m2 housing from around the world. (What is that in sq ft?) I decided this guy actually does have a point.

    At the end of the book there is a nice scheme by Richard Murphy, an Edinburgh Architect in Scotland for a mixture of small units. This book, rather than the normal tombs about Housing etc, is the best, simplest little read i have come across. It is nice to start real simple, just to ask what do people need. And yet design something that isn't terrible - hard to do i know.

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