Income diversity, and its preservation is critical to also preserving social, racial, ethnic and political diversity. Political diversity is critical to a well-functioning democracy. Boulder must broaden and strengthen its affordable housing approach to, at a minimum, retain the economic spectrum of the population that currently lives here and ideally, broaden that spectrum.
To housing policy makers, “affordability” means a very specific thing. It means permanent affordability.
It also means such housing is part of a program, either government of nonprofit operated, that targets predominantly low to moderate income households and sometimes middle income households for housing assistance and income qualifies program participants.
Many common marketing euphemisms that are employed, such as “workforce housing”, “natural affordability”, “organic affordability”, “natural density”, or the term “density” itself, are misleading. Loosely using the term “affordability” without explaining that it means permanent and targeted toward specific lower income populations is also misleading.
“Affordability”, that is, “permanent affordability”, is achieved through the intentionality of creating it. It does not come about automatically, nor is “market rate” affordable long term. By definition, “market rate” means the price is set by the market so it is inherently not permanently affordable even if it might initially be affordable to some range of households normally targeted for housing assistance. If not permanently affordable, eventually the market, especially in a luxury gentrifying market like Boulder’s, will push “market rate” housing it out of the reach of low and moderate income families.
We see four essential criteria that must be satisfied in order to achieve greater levels of affordability:
1) Any affordable housing program the city adopts must at a minimum maintain the absolute number and percentage of housing units that are affordable to households with incomes ranging from low- to middle-income, and match the economic distribution of the population, so that we can preserve our socio-economic diversity;
2) Most New Housing Must Be Permanently Affordable. Boulder’s Inclusionary Housing Program (IH) relies on the development of a large number of unaffordable housing units (nominally 80%) to generate a small number of affordable housing units (nominally 20%). Meanwhile, market-rate housing prices, including market-rate affordable housing prices, are increasing at a greater rate than incomes, making market-rate housing less and less affordable over time. This is exactly the opposite outcome of what is needed – the majority of new housing must be affordable and that affordability must be permanent.
3) The costs for maintaining or improving upon that income distribution must be appropriately assessed to the drivers of housing unaffordability, i.e., commercial development and the demand for people and thus housing that it creates; and,
4) Existing market-rate affordable housing must be protected against gentrification.
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PLAN-Boulder County Position on Affordable Housing Commercial Linkage Fees, Transportation Linkage Fees and Transportation Excise Taxes – February 2017
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PLAN-Boulder Position on Proposed Ordinance to Allow Cooperative Housing in Single Family Neighborhoods
This coming Tuesday, City Council will have a “2nd reading” of a proposed new ordinance to allow “co-ops” in single-family residential neighborhoods. It would allow up to 15 “co-ops” per year in single-family residential neighborhoods. [...]
PLAN-Boulder supports the creation of a permanent citizen advisory board to address affordable housing. The purpose of the Affordable Housing Advisory Board would be to study, review and advise City Council on issues affecting affordable [...]