Housing News Roundup: August 10, 2015
Opinion: How to Ease LA’s Housing Crunch
Given that developers are building less than 3% of the affordable housing recommended by the California Housing Partnership Corp., there does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to LA’s housing affordability problems. Paul Habibi believes the best way to ease the crunch is to change zoning requirements to allow for higher density housing near transportation and job centers and increase the bonuses to developers that include affordable units in their buildings. Loosening the site review process would also go a long way in encouraging development and reducing the time and cost of projects. Finally, Habibi argues that tax-increment financing should be used to incentivize developers to increase the supply of affordable housing, through the recently created Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts.
Source: LA Times
Anchorage Uses Wichita and Oklahoma City as Models for Development
Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz and his economic development team traveled to Wichita, KS and Oklahoma City, OK to speak with city leaders and learn about their development strategies. The cities were chosen because Wichita is similar in size to Anchorage, and Oklahoma City’s economy is similar to that of Anchorage, with its focus on natural resources. Berkowitz was especially interested in Wichita’s downtown housing and redevelopment projects, and Oklahoma City’s use of tax incentives for building housing downtown. The Anchorage team was impressed in both cities with how stakeholders across sectors worked together, and with both cities’ determination to retain young people. Some key takeaways from the trip include the need for Anchorage to create a comprehensive plan for redeveloping the city, as well as the need to improve the quality of its housing and development data.
Source: Alaska Dispatch News
Localities Ignore Affordable Housing Mandate in Illinois
Under a law passed in 2004, 68 municipalities in Illinois were required to file plans to develop more affordable housing with the Illinois Housing Development Authority by June 2. While some towns have applied for extensions, most of the forty towns that have not filed any new plans have simply missed the deadline. Man Yee Lee, a spokeswoman from the Development Authority, admits that because the agency is not a regulatory body, it has no ability to enforce the mandate when towns do not comply, saying “We do feel that our hands are very much tied.” Many of the municipalities that have not complied argue that they were only required to file a plan when the law was initially passed, and that they are not required to submit a plan every year. The towns in question include some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan region, such as Lake Forest, Northbrook and Deerfield.
Source: Chicago Tribune
San Francisco to Vote on $310 Million in Municipal Bonds to Fund Affordable Housing
San Francisco is considering the largest housing bond in its history, scheduled to be voted on in November. Mayor Ed Lee is backing the $310 million debt sale amidst pressure to do something about the city’s rising costs of living. If approved, the bonds will be used to finance the renovation of 30,000 homes in the next five years, as well as to create a program to help first time home buyers. According to Nadia Sesay, San Francisco’s public finance director, revenues from property taxes will be used to repay the 20-year debt. However, the bond issue will not increase property taxes, which have been rejected by San Franciscans in recent years. If approved, the debt would first be sold in 2016.
Source: Boston Globe