Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Affordable Housing

Back in 2007 when the Traverse City Commission voted against the unanimous recommendation of the planning commission for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) they did so at the bidding of a few sour curmudgeons.

At the time a big part of the discussion was affordable housing.

Based on this topic showing up in a couple of recent articles in the Record-Eagle and an email from a business owner to school parents asking if anyone knew of an apartment or efficiency for rent downtown, it seems the issue of affordable housing is being discussed again in Traverse City:

County looks at housing trust: Funds could be used to build affordable housing in GT
A 2009 housing needs assessment from the Northwest Michigan Council of governments predicts Grand Traverse County will need up to 575 affordable rental units...

The Land Bank Authority often pulls one or two buildable lots close to Traverse City from foreclosure sales for use as Habitat for Humanity affordable home projects.

Those close-to-town lots are "truly a blessing," said Nancy Kiogima, family services manager for Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region.

'Depot property' eyed for affordable housing
"We've been trying to do something with that property for a while, it would be nice to get it on the tax rolls,"

My reading of these indicate there is a shortage of housing options in downtown and the city is looking to get more tax revenue from new properties.

Had the City Commissioners allowed ADU's in 2007 they would now have:
- a diverse array of downtown rental options at various price points (and without the city having to develop, lease, or sell anything)
- increased tax revenues for the city via higher property values and ADU related fees that the City could have imposed
- fewer homes in foreclosure and for sale due to the owners having the option of additional income streams
- less traffic into and out of town

And all of the other reasons you'll find under the ADU tag.

This actually reminds me the chicken issue. The Record-Eagle originally editorialized in a belittling manner the idea, then it was found that the City had to allow them in order to comply with state law, and this month the first Coop Loop was an incredibly popular success with over 200 people on the tour.

I believe the ADU issue will evolve in the same way - sometime people will see the value they can add to this city.