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Discussion: Housing Element

 

The purpose of the Housing Element is to assess future needs for housing in Jefferson County by examining existing residential patterns, demographic trends and projected population growth. Based upon these identified needs, policies are recommended to encourage safe, affordable and decent housing options for all County residents, consistent with the requirements of the Growth Management Act.

These are the goals related to the Housing Element in the Comp Plan:

1. Encourage and support efforts to provide an adequate supply of housing for County residents of all income groups.

2. Promote a variety of affordable housing choices throughout the County through the use of innovative land use practices, development standards, design techniques, and building permit requirements.

3. Cooperate with the appropriate agencies to create programs aimed at conserving and improving the County’s existing housing.

4. Encourage the development of housing for people with special needs.

What do you think influences housing affordability?

3 Responses

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David Neuenschwander almost 6 years ago

Edward Glaeser (Harvard University Economist) wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in 2011: “An increase in the supply of houses, or anything else, almost always drives prices down, while restricting the supply of real estate keeps prices high.” "The relationship between housing supply and affordability isn’t just a matter of economic theory. A great deal of evidence links the supply of space with the cost of real estate. Simply put, the places that are expensive don’t build a lot, and the places that build a lot aren’t expensive." "The cost of restricting development is that protected areas have become more expensive and more exclusive. In 2000, people who lived in historic districts in Manhattan were on average almost 74 percent wealthier than people who lived outside such areas. Almost three-quarters of the adults living in historic districts had college degrees, as opposed to 54 percent outside them. People living in historic districts were 20 percent more likely to be white. The well-heeled historic-district denizens who persuade the landmarks commission to prohibit taller structures have become the urban equivalent of those restrictive suburbanites who want to mandate five-acre lot sizes to keep out the riffraff."

My own thinking is that Prof Glaeser's comments have a direct bearing on housing affordability in Jefferson County. The takeaway is that Jefferson County's highly restrictive land use policies and prickly building policies contribute immensely to the high price of housing.

Instead of another government program (with its attendant heavy costs), the County could go far to alleviate housing shortages by writing far less restrictive land use policies and put in place procedures to encourage (and not discourage) building.

2 Votes
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Barbara Morey almost 6 years ago

The lack of adequate housing units has increased the costs of rentals so that 51% of renters in PT and 59% in the County have insecure housing and are paying more than 30% of their income for housing. (2009-13 5-Year Community Survey) compared to 19% in 2000. In addition, Jefferson Co has the 3rd highest numbers of homeless veterans in the state and we can't find housing units for them in our county even when funding is available. Section 8 (subsidized housing) has a 5 year waiting list because there are no housing units available. As a result, JeffCo counted 344 homeless individuals in 2015 including families, veterans, couch surfing young adults, and individuals with disabilities, mental illness or chemical dependency issues, who should be in permanent supported housing. Dove House,Domestic Violence shelter, had to turn away over 191 households (not just individuals)this past year; the Emergency Winter Shelter served a record 110 individuals this year. A community-supported tent village supported up to 10 campers at a time this spring compared with 6 last year. There are not enough housing units. And I think you are right, "Jefferson County's highly restrictive land use policies and prickly building policies contribute immensely to the high price of housing.

Instead of another government program (with its attendant heavy costs), the County could go far to alleviate housing shortages by writing far less restrictive land use policies and put in place procedures to encourage (and not discourage) building."

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Barbara Morey almost 6 years ago

Jefferson County's highly restrictive land use policies and inflexible building policies contribute immensely to the lack of housing units and affordable housing. In Olympia WA, Portland OR, Eugene OR, Madison WI, and Austin TX non-profit organizations have built entire villages of 9-30 tiny homes, (200-400sq ft) to provide affordable housing for low income and homeless residents and as a rapid response to homelessness.

If our local government wanted to allow permanent occupancy of tiny homes ( as described above, even though it has been built to best practice standards (from the Tiny House Builders Association) with a half bath and kitchenette, insulation, egress windows, and adequate floor space and wall height.

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