Housing is affordable if a household can live in it expending only 30% of its income and still maintain secure access to food, health care, and other daily life essentials.
A Building Crisis
Even before the recent coronavirus outbreak, affordable housing was an increasing issue of concern across the nation. A shortage of reasonable housing availability was already posing a threat for middle-class to low-income families. With rising house prices, home ownership is increasingly out of reach for many, and rents so high that saving money is nearly impossible, causing some Americans to join the rising number of homeless.
Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people across the country are evicted. Those hardest hit by the affordable housing crisis include first-time homebuyers, seniors, people with disabilities and veterans.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse.
Local governments have the ability to impact several aspects of this issue, from controlling housing types, sizes, and location to transportation access, infrastructure, and speedier approval processes.
The variety of tools available to address the current crisis includes:
- Zoning Codes
- Allowing and regulating Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
- Expediting permit processes
- Waiving or reducing fees
- Providing density bonuses to developers
The Affordable Housing crisis is far too complex to have a single solution. But reviewing current ordinances for gaps or areas of concern that can be revised and updated is a place to start.
For instance, an editorial and legal analysis provides municipal leaders with pertinent information that identifies conflicts, inconsistencies, duplication and statutory compliance issues. The analysis includes recommended changes to strengthen your zoning and municipal codes.
Additionally, municipalities are drafting and enacting legislation that requires a certain percentage or share of new construction to be affordable to people with low to moderate incomes. This type of legislation is sometimes referred to as “inclusionary zoning” or “inclusionary housing.”
Another remedy at the local government level is to retool outdated zoning codes. The idea is to make it easier for developers to include affordable options, as well as prioritizing affordable or mixed-use housing for incentives such as brownfield tax credits.
Useful examples from the eCode360® Library
If your community is interested in legislating to support or encourage development of affordable housing, some useful examples can be found in our eCode360 Library, including:
Town of Brookhaven, NY- Affordable Housing
Borough of Avalon, NJ (Cape May) – Enforcement of Affordable Housing Regulations
Talbot County, MD (Talbot) – Affordable Workforce Housing
Updating municipal codes is vitally important
As local governments continue to adjust and transform digitally to the ever-shifting needs of the COVID-19 era, keeping municipal codes updated has become more essential than ever. It’s important to sustain orderly and accessible knowledge of the most current regulations and resolutions in a timely manner.
We encourage our clients to submit code updates as soon as possible to make sure constituents and local government officials are always referencing and working with the most up-to-date resources. Clients can send legislation to [email protected].
Best practices for managing your codification budget
Many of our client communities find it helpful to be on a code update schedule to help manage their budgets throughout the year. Our Client Care Advocates can work with you and explain the options and benefits of scheduled code updates. Give them a call at 800.836.8834 or send an email to [email protected]. They’d be happy to help or answer any other codification questions you might have.
- The affordable housing crisis, explained
- In America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, More Demand but Less Supply
- 5 Things To Know About The Affordable Housing Crisis
- Brownfields Tax Incentive
- Mixed-use development
- Accessory Dwelling Units
- Density Bonus
- Inclusionary zoning
- Defining Housing Affordability
- The Problem
- Who’s hit hardest by the affordable housing shortage?
- The affordable housing crisis is about to get worse; here’s a policy that will help renters
- Gainesville’s affordable housing crisis worsening amid pandemic
- West Michigan cities weigh policy changes to bolster affordable housing
- Court rules Hoboken luxury developers must provide affordable housing units
- The conundrum affordable housing poses for the nation
- General Code: Legal and Editorial Analysis (Codification)
- eCode360 Library of municipal codes