Definition of Affordable Housing
We define affordable housing as housing that is accessible to families and individuals whose income is 50-60 percent of medium, or less. In monetary terms this would signify units that would rent for $300 to $700 monthly, or the ownership of a home costing between $60,000 and $125,000. More specifically, as one workshop participant noted, the rule of thumb should be that the cost of housing “should not take all of one’s budget’.” Or, as Mayor Phil Gordon has stated, affordable housing should “allow any working family the opportunity to raise their children in a wholesome environment, while still meeting other family needs.” (State of the City: 2004)
Top Two Challenges
- Need a common definition of what constitutes affordable housing. The definition should be 50% to 60% of medium income.
- Need public support of affordable housing. Key leadership needs to publicly promote affordable housing using real life examples.
- Location of affordable housing. Once decided, efforts must be made to alleviate tension between current stakeholders in area (often-negative perceptions) and developer(s) of affordable housing.
- Need to dispel myths of “irresponsible” low-income renters/owners versus those with perceived higher socio-economic status.
2. Preserving, Developing, and Upholding Public Policy
- Preserve Affordable Housing
- Preserve existing affordable housing, including remaining SROs.
- Provide funding to enable owners of affordable housing to carry out infrastructure repairs/improvements that cannot be supported by low rents.
- Offer reduction in property taxes to low-income home owners (analogous to the tax reduction available to low-income seniors who are home owners).
- Develop Affordable Housing
- Affordable housing should embrace efficiency, effectiveness, and general accountability.
- Recommend that local housing departments not develop affordable housing on their own. Rather that they should form partnerships with private non-profit/for-profit entities.
- Encourage development of affordable housing in TOD overlays in order to promote ties to public transportation, employment and services (San Jose model).
- Encourage and streamline development of innovative housing models such as co-op housing, land trusts, adaptive reuse, as examples.
- Uphold Public Policy
- Need for government entities to require affordable housing in residential development agreements. Perhaps used as an incentive. When such policies developed, there must be the political will to monitor and uphold them.
- Tax Increment Financing. The State has a constitutional prohibition that would have to be changed. Tucson and Apache Junction are the only localities that have it.
- Real Estate Transfer Fee. Although referendum passed to outlaw such fees, an analogous source of funding could be attempted.
- Use Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding ($39/$60 million) to develop affordable housing.
- Recycle tax-delinquent abandoned or surplus properties.
- Support inclusionary zoning.
- Reduce impact fees; reduce infrastructure and permitting costs and streamline schedule.
- Consider taxing empty land as if already developed, using proceeds to develop affordable housing.
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Review 2004 Affordable Housing challenges and solutions (including 2010 analysis of progress)