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Opportunity Area #18: Improve Housing Affordability

Opportunity Area #18 – Improve Housing Afforability

Affordable housing is often misunderstood and seen as undesirable by many communities. For many, affordable housing implies properties that are subsidized by federal programs, or that accept Housing Choice Vouchers or “Section 8” properties. The appropriate measure for housing affordability is the housing cost burden, or the percentage of a household’s income spent on housing. Households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing have an excessive cost burden. According to the American Community Survey in 2019, 94,783 households in the region spend more than 30% of their income on housing. This is down from 135,471 households in 2010, meaning housing costs generally became more affordable for those that own their own home.

Over the same period, we have seen a significantly different story for renters. In 2019, 116,407 households were paying more than 30% of their income for housing. This is an increase over 2010, which observed 109,205 housing cost-burdened households. More recent data shows that costs of rental housing have dramatically risen in the past year.


Policy Recommedations

18.A Local governments should use their comprehensive plans, zoning codes and development regulations to encourage a range of housing types, densities, and price points appropriate to the needs of residents and workers in the community.

18.B Local governments should assess the condition of their existing housing stock and the current and future housing needs of residents and workers in consultation with major employers.

18.C Local governments should work with the community, developers, public housing authorities, nonprofit housing entities and private landlords to address the need for de-centralized quality subsidized housing.

18.D Local comprehensive plans and zoning regulations should enable diverse and affordable rental and homeownership opportunities (such as garage apartments, granny flats, co-housing, mixed residential/office/commercial structures, and multifamily buildings, where appropriate) including visitable housing opportunities.

18.E Local comprehensive plans, zoning codes and development regulations should reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers to build affordable housing.