Local Connection: Affordable Housing

Mayor Kirk Caldwell rightfully dedicated his state of the city message last week to affordable housing and we give him very high praise for what he had to say.

The headlines mostly focused on his proposal to tweak current incentives to entice condo developers to offer more low income rental and workforce housing in return for city permits. But because the housing industry goes up and down with economic cycles, that model alone doesn't guaranty a lot of affordable housing very quickly.

So the Mayor's plan includes an idea which the development community has been suggesting for years.

Developers say the main roadblock to building affordables is land.  So the Mayor is proposing an aggressive program to offer multiple parcels of city land - with dollar-a-year leases -- for housing.

Developers would compete for the right to build these projects with public and private financing which should not be a large drain on taxpayers.

The Mayor's plan also combines a number of other strategies which gives the plan a better chance of success than one single concept.

Its complexity will require a team of experienced housing, finance and land use experts. We believe this is a very worthwhile and low-risk investment that finally takes on this crucial challenge.

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