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					S m a r t G r o w t h ’s




                AFFORDABLE


2   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
Opportunities
C
        reating a range of housing opportunities and
        choices is a major principle of Smart Growth,
        as stated by the Smart Growth Network, a
                                                               In this issue of On Common Ground, we highlight
                                                            the many efforts nationwide to provide affordable
                                                            housing for working Americans. Several articles
coalition of more than 30 organizations including the       focus on the many programs that have been
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Smart                 developed to meet the needs of people in specific
Growth       America       and      the    NATIONAL         occupations, such as police officers, teachers and
ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Other Smart                       resort workers. Other articles discuss tools, such as
Growth goals, such as greater mobility, reduced             employer assisted housing and preservation of
traffic congestion and mixed-use walkable                   affordable rental housing, which can help moderate-
communities, can best be achieved when every                income people with housing costs.
community has housing for all income levels.                   In addition to housing costs, transportation costs
   The inclusion of “ workforce housing” is an              put an additional burden on households. As described
especially critical element of a complete community.        in this issue, Transit-Oriented Developments are an
Workforce housing is described as housing serving           increasingly popular form of development that can
those who make between 60 to 120 percent of the             lower consumers’ transportation costs. Building
median income in their local area, or perhaps even up       mixed-income housing at transit locations is the key
to 200 percent in markets with high housing costs.          to providing a valuable mix of affordable
These are the people on whom we rely for basic              transportation and affordable housing. By looking
services in our communities, including education, law       holistically at affordable housing, transportation and
enforcement, safety, retail services and health services.   land use planning can lead us to Smart Growth
                                                            approaches to providing greater housing
                                                            opportunities for all Americans.



   For more information on NAR and Smart Growth, go to www.realtor.org/smartgrowth.
   For more information on NAR and Housing Opportunity, go to www.realtor.org/housingopportunity.
   On Common Ground is published twice a year by the Government Affairs division of the NATIONAL
   ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR), and is distributed free of charge. The publication presents a wide
   range of views on Smart Growth issues, with the goal of encouraging a dialogue among REALTORS®,
   elected officials and other interested citizens. The opinions expressed in On Common Ground are those of
   the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policy of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
   REALTORS®, its members or affiliate organizations.

   Editor                                                   Co-Editor
   Joseph R. Molinaro                                       Mike Lehrman
   Manager, Smart Growth Programs                           Housing Opportunity Program
   NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®                        NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
   500 New Jersey Avenue, NW                                500 New Jersey Avenue, NW
   Washington, DC 20001                                     Washington, DC 20001

   Distribution:
   For more copies of this issue or to be placed on our mailing list for future issues of On Common Ground,
   please contact Ted Wright, NAR Government Affairs, at (202) 383-1206 or twright@realtors.org.



                                                                                       WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   3
                    Analyzing
                                   the Market
                                       Today’s current
                                       housing
                                       opportunities
                                       and challenges
                                       By David Goldberg




6   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
I
     f there was an upside to the bursting of the       for planning and design at New Urban Builders,
     “housing bubble,” it was supposed to be that the   Inc. in Chico, CA. “In a sense, we stole from the
     end of the meteoric rise of home prices would at   future market.”
least make homes more affordable in the red-hot             Builders “stole” from that market, Anderson said,
metro areas that are the epicenter of the slump.        by focusing on larger, more expensive homes, while
After all, the years-long run-up during the period of   ignoring the large swath of households that would
anomalously low interest rates had torturous            have been perfectly happy with a smaller house,
consequences for households supported by                town house or condo they could afford—especially
teachers, firefighters and countless other modestly     in locations that offered shorter commutes. “A lot of
paying jobs. The commute to areas where they            people were stretching to get into big houses they
could “qualify” for a more affordable home got          didn’t really want, thinking that it would be easier
longer and longer, and budgets were stretched           to sell it later to someone else who didn’t really want
thinner and thinner.                                    it,” Anderson quipped.
    Today, we hear story after story about high-
production homebuilders and other developers
bleeding red ink as new subdivisions go begging.
With builders slashing prices to lure buyers, sellers
of existing homes are watching their hoped-for
asking prices recede. Bad news for sellers, but
perhaps good news for first-time homebuyers.
    But then there’s that other set of headlines: The
foreclosure crisis among high-risk mortgages is
leading major lenders to pull in their horns and
ratchet up qualification requirements or leave the
business altogether. At the same time, mortgage
rates for Adjustable Rate Mortgages are on the rise.
All this is making it tougher and more expensive for
less-affluent buyers to get into their own homes.
    “There is an affordability problem, and I’m
guessing that it has gotten worse recently and will
continue to get worse in the next few years,” said
Kermit Baker, who serves as chief economic analyst
at the American Institute of Architects and the Joint
Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. “The
marginal buyer was getting in with adjustable rate
mortgages more than fixed. Many of those are gone,
and rates are going up.” At the same time, he noted,
“The concessions by builders are affecting a certain
piece of the market, but you don’t see widespread
lowering of prices. People selling their own homes
will wait for the market to recover.”
    There isn’t a single housing market, of course.
Market conditions are by their nature highly
localized. In some areas the time on the market and
price can be heavily influenced by just a small
number of large projects. “You could pick out 15 or     “It’s fair to say we are
20 metro areas where there was massive
overbuilding,” Baker said, “but the issues are in the   entering a fundamental
areas where the subdivisions are, but not in the rest
of the metro area. The area where we’re seeing          turning point in how
concessions is in the new home market, where there
is inventory overhang.”
                                                        households are making
    Where have those buyers gone? “Buyers are on
strike now because many who would be looking for
                                                        housing decisions
a move-up house already exercised that option
when rates were low and prices for the first house
                                                        and responding to
were high,” said R. John Anderson, vice president       changing conditions.”
                                                                                      WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   7
                   “We’re seeing changes in lifestyles and
                    a growing preference for being close
                           to jobs and activities.”
               Since the 1970s, the median size of newly built      housing costs anymore. You have to talk about
            houses has grown by roughly 45 percent, reaching        housing and transportation, because it is getting so
            2,300 square feet early this year, according to the     expensive.” In high-mileage Atlanta, for example,
            U.S. Census Bureau. This occurred even as               the combined cost of housing and transportation
            households were shrinking. In 2006, the share of        accounts for 61 percent of the typical household
            single-person households edged past the proportion      budget, higher than any other region save the San
            of households with children; both hovering near 31      Francisco Bay area. But with one in seven
            percent. Wages, meanwhile, have stayed flat in          households nationally paying more than half of its
            recent years.                                           income for housing, according to the Joint Center,
               There are signs the building industry has begun      Atlanta is far from alone.
            to take notice. Saddled with a surplus of larger           To accommodate the new economic and
            houses that are a drag on the bottom line, high-        demographic realities, Baker said, “There will
            production builders such as KB Home and Centex          continue to be a trend toward more of a mix of
            have announced that they will build smaller, more       housing types and uses in areas closer to jobs. And
            affordable homes aimed at first-time buyers.            more changes are ahead now that sustainable
            Already in the second quarter of this year, the         design and green building are coming into play as
            average size had slipped to 2,241 square feet, and      people become concerned about climate change
            market observers believe the trend will continue.       and energy independence.” Recognizing the
               There are a number of signs that the slumping        growth in a more “urban” market, at least four of the
            sales in exurban subdivisions and shrinking house       big, national homebuilders—KB Home, Centex, K.
            sizes are bellwethers of something more than a          Hovnanian and Toll Brothers—have created
            temporary market “correction,” Baker said. “It’s fair   divisions focused on building attached and other
            to say we are entering a fundamental turning point      housing in mixed-use settings.
            in how households are making housing decisions             But will all these changes help more people find
            and responding to changing conditions.                  an affordable place to live? Tammie Hoy, executive
               “The affordability issue is something more           director of Low Country Housing Trust in
            pressing in the last couple of years. We’re also        Charleston, SC, thinks they will, if they are managed
            seeing changes in lifestyles and a growing              well. “The best way to promote affordability is to
            preference for being close to jobs and activities.      maximize land, because that’s the biggest cost on
            Homebuyers were disillusioned with buying houses        the coast. We promote higher density, mixed use
            15 to 20 miles from what they needed or wanted to       communities because that’s more efficient in terms
            do, and now higher fuel costs underscore that and       of land and infrastructure. If it’s well done it can
            you’re paying more for transportation.”                 reduce the cost and make a nicer neighborhood.”
               Egbert Perry, CEO of The Integral Group, an             Building a denser mix of housing types requires
            Atlanta developer, agreed. “You can’t just talk about   a transition from viewing housing as a commodity



8   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
to building distinct places, said Anderson. And that       presents a greater design challenge than carving out
makes the design both of individual homes and of           uniform lots and offering a few similarly sized house
neighborhoods all the more critical, he added.             plans. Closely grouped houses have to be arranged
   At the level of the individual home, this means         to allow for private space, as well as usable, shared
“recognizing that one size really doesn’t fit              open space. Buildings of all sizes and types must be
everyone,” he added. This can mean, for example,           built with similar design detail to protect the
building houses as small as 1,000 square feet and          property values and cohesion of the neighborhood.
avoiding house plans that have the garage                     Meeting the changing demand and economic
incorporated, and making a detached garage an              circumstances will require that not only developers
option rather than a standard feature. This makes          change their way of doing business, but that
the house cheaper, but it also increases flexibility for   government does as well. Local governments have
the buyers, he said. “Once the garage is detached,         played a role in promoting the building of higher-
we don’t really care whether you buy a garage or           end subdivisions over more affordable homes, some
not. You can do it now or later, build it bigger and       developers said. Most jurisdictions zone their land
put an apartment over it; or skip it and build a           into single uses at low densities. Many also have
carport.” The smaller a house is, the more the             put up a growing number of regulatory barriers to
available space needs to be used flexibly and              more-affordable housing, imposing requirements
efficiently—a bigger design challenge than                 for larger lots, bigger houses and restrictions on
building a separate room for each function, but also       multifamily housing. When interest rates were low
a big money-saver.                                         and barriers to building affordable homes high,
   Similar considerations operate at the                   builders cranked out the large, single-family houses
neighborhood level as well, Anderson said. Buyers          that are now waiting for buyers.
looking at a particular neighborhood should have a            In the Bay Area and Central Valley of California,
variety of options, from small to large houses or from     where Anderson works, building the more
attached to stand-alone. “People decide they want to       affordable, compact configurations can require a
be in the neighborhood and they decide which               dozen or more special allowances, he said. At times
house is a better fit or more affordable.” Again, this     his firm has negotiated a special zoning overlay
                                                           known as a form-based code, which regulates the
                                                           form and placement of buildings so that the overall
Building a denser mix                                      design has a “high-quality” feel, whether the units
of housing types                                           are costly or more affordable.
                                                              Government can help make homes more
requires a transition                                      affordable in others ways as well. To help meet the
                                                           powerful demand for “workforce” housing for the
from viewing housing                                       technology workers making $50,000-$80,000 a year,
                                                           Anderson is working with local jurisdictions to
as a commodity to                                          develop smaller one- and two-bedroom
                                                           condominium flats. In Chico, the city offers second
building distinct places.                                  mortgages to help cover costs. Employers are
                                                           getting into the act, too. In Silicon Valley, some
                                                           companies are offering their employees an
                                                           Employer-Assisted Housing plan to help pay for a
                                                           downpayment or closing costs.
                                                              Though well behind northern California in terms
                                                           of house prices—like every other region—the
                                                           Charleston area is seeing similar changes, Hoy
                                                           said. “Developers are finally starting to think of
                                                           working families as a niche market,” she added.
                                                           “It’s a whole new set of customers for developers
                                                           who think of it that way. But everyone—developers
                                                           and local governments alike—is having to go to
                                                           school on how to build for it successfully.”
                                                           David A. Goldberg is the communications director for
                                                           Smart Growth America, a nationwide coalition based in
                                                           Washington, D.C. that advocates for land-use policy reform.
                                                           In 2002, Mr. Goldberg was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at
                                                           Harvard University where he studied urban policy.



                                                                                           WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND
                 Balancing
                  Shared equity home ownership
                  addresses affordable housing needs
                  By Judy Newman




10   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
the Cost
N
          ancy Rowand and her 18-month-old twin          equity housing, a trend that, in the past few years,
          daughter and son were welcoming the            has taken on the momentum of a bullet train.
          holidays in their tiny Washington, D.C.           Though their numbers still make up only a
apartment on Christmas Eve, 1977.                        small percentage nationwide, more and more
    But their joy faded quickly when Rowand              people are embracing shared equity arrangements
received a startling, hand-delivered “gift:” an          to become homeowners.
eviction notice.                                            Shared equity, also called permanently
    New owners of the eight-building, 96-unit            affordable home ownership or third sector housing,
complex—built in the 1940s to house military or          is a step between the traditional American housing
military support staff—wanted to tear down the           alternatives of either buying or renting; of private
600-square-foot, one-bedroom apartments between          home ownership or ownership by a government
Georgetown and American universities or convert          agency or nonprofit organization.
them to condominiums.                                       In shared equity arrangements, a homeowner
    Rowand and her neighbors, a diverse group of         generally receives some type of subsidy from a
moderate-income people, were not about to let that       government agency or nonprofit group, reducing
happen without a fight. They formed a committee,         the purchase and payment costs. In return, the
hired lawyers and appealed to the city for help. “We     homeowner shares the rise in the home’s value with
had a rally and chanted, ‘we shall not be moved,’”
Rowand said.
                                                          Southern Lights in Boulder, Colorado
    And they won. In 1979, the Beecher Cooperative
was created, 63 units in six buildings, for an initial
buy-in cost of $1,000 per household plus a co-op
fee to cover a blanket mortgage on the property.
    Nearly 30 years later, the Beecher Cooperative is
still going strong. In 1986, members bought out the
limited partnership that co-owned their buildings,
raising $2.5 million through individual share loans
averaging $30,000 from the National Cooperative
Bank. Today, households pay $550 to $800 a month
in mortgage and co-op fees,
Rowand said, a lot less than the
area’s market-rate, one-bedroom
rents of about $1,400.
    “We’re very much of an
anomaly,” Rowand said. “We
really have a beautiful situation
in an area of Washington, D.C.
that’s very pricey, wooded and
                                                                                   Three types of
very desirable.”
    The Beecher bunch might not
                                                                                   shared equity
have foreseen it at the time, but it
was part of what has become a
                                                                                   housing are
growing trend toward shared                                                        gaining ground.
                                                                                            WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   11
            that organization. There are income guidelines for    and reduce their home-buying costs while
            purchasers and often, rules on use of the property,   investors could participate in “a new asset class,”
            shared governance, and caps on appreciation.          the report suggested.
               A study on shared equity home ownership by            Also in April, a Business Week article said one
            John Emmeus Davis for the National Housing            type of shared equity mortgage already is
            Institute (NHI) in 2006 concluded that “after         becoming more prevalent: parents contributing to
            waiting in the wings for many years, third sector     their child’s home downpayment and claiming a
            housing is now reaching a broader audience and        comparable share of the appreciation when the
            winning wider support.” Davis estimated there         home is sold.
            could be anywhere between 500,000 and 800,000            But the concept of shared equity is not without its
            shared equity units around the country. But that      bumps, ranging from how long covenants should
            number will likely explode over the next decade. As   stay in effect to how much equity the homeowner
            housing costs have soared, more and more cities       should receive. And it is not for everyone. Shared
            have adopted inclusionary housing requirements        equity homeowners won’t get rich on their real
            and set up housing trust funds.                       estate investment. At the Beecher Cooperative,
               Meanwhile, an expanding range of alternatives      units are now valued at $90,000; condos in the two
            is being explored as the call for affordable home     buildings that did not join the co-op were recently
            ownership grows louder. Shared equity mortgages,      selling for $250,000. But that’s the crux of the
            in which homeowners share the increased value         program: to keep home ownership affordable.
            of their property with investors, are touted in an       Most commonly, three types of shared equity
            April 2007 report co-authored by New York             housing are gaining ground, the NHI study said:
            University economics professor Andrew Caplin in       limited equity co-ops, such as the Beecher
            partnership with the Fannie Mae Foundation.           Cooperative, deed-restricted housing and
            Homeowners would gain a new source of financing       community land trusts.
                                                                     In Boulder, Colo., four families moved into two
          Deed-restricted houses,                                 new duplexes in July in Southern Lights, a deed-
                                                                  restricted housing project initiated by the Boulder
          town houses and                                         Area REALTOR® Association.
                                                                     With the help of Boulder’s Affordable Housing
          condominiums are                                        Alliance—a nonprofit group that already had
                                                                  built other deed-restricted units nearby—and the
          the fastest growing                                     city’s land contribution, the REALTORS® raised
                                                                  $75,000 and worked side-by-side with the
          form of shared equity                                   homeowners-to-be, hammering, painting and
                                                                  landscaping the property.
          home ownership.
                                                                                       City’s Edge in South Burlington, Vermont




                 Elmwood in St. Albans, Vermont




12   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
  Southern Lights in Boulder, Colorado




REALTORS® worked side-by-side with the
homeowners-to-be, hammering, painting and
landscaping the property.
   The Victorian-style duplexes were sold to           shared equity home ownership, the NHI study
families earning 80 percent of the median income       said, primarily because so many communities are
or less, about $57,000 for a three-person household.   now using regulatory incentives and inclusionary
“Architecturally, they do not resemble affordable      mandates, requiring that some or all new housing
housing that you may be used to seeing,” said          developments include affordable units.
Kenneth Hotard, senior vice president for public           Community land trusts also are sprouting
affairs with the Boulder Area REALTOR®                 nationwide, from Burlington, Vt. to Irvine, Calif.
Association (BARA).                                        Traditionally, the land trust owns the land and
   Two of the units are 1,504 square feet, with four   leases it to the owner of the home that sits on the
bedrooms and two baths; they sold for $200,000.        land. With condominiums, there’s no land to lease,
The other two, at 1,227 square feet, with three        so a covenant fulfills a similar purpose.
bedrooms and two baths, sold for $175,000.                 The Burlington Community Land Trust, one of the
“Market rate would be at least twice that much,”       oldest community land trusts in the U.S., was
Hotard said, noting that Boulder’s median home         founded in 1984. Renamed the Champlain Housing
sale price is $560,000.                                Trust when it merged with the nonprofit Lake
   City rules specify that when the current            Champlain Housing Development Corporation in
homeowners sell their duplexes, the price cannot       2006, it is also one of the largest, encompassing
appreciate more than 1 to 3.5 percent a year.          nearly 400 single-family homes and condominiums,
Boulder also has inclusionary zoning rules             more than 1,400 rental units and six co-ops with 115
requiring 20 percent of all housing built to be        homes in a three-county area of northwest Vermont.
permanently affordable. But a problem has              Eighty employees run the land trust, which also sees
emerged, Hotard said: there’s not enough housing       its mission as revitalizing declining neighborhoods,
for middle-income people.                              not just with housing but also stores and offices.
   “We’re basically driving the middle class out,”         “We really are a large-scale community develop-
he said. BARA plans to work with the city to create    ment organization,” said Kirsten DeLuca, homeland
incentives to build more middle-income homes.          and technical assistance program manager.
   Deed-restricted houses, town houses and                 Champlain serves households below the area’s
condominiums are the fastest growing form of           median income and provides a subsidy that lowers



                                                                                   WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   13
            the cost to the buyer, then limits the appreciation         Neighbors who paid full price don’t get angry,
            the homeowner can receive to 25 percent when the         DeLuca said. “If you can afford to buy a market-
            home is later sold.                                      rate home on your own, that’s a better investment.
               For example, on a home priced at $200,000,            You’ll get 100 percent of the appreciation.”
            Champlain may provide a $50,000 subsidy. When               People get involved with the land trust because
            the owners decide to sell, a fair market appraisal is    they’re “entirely priced out of the market,” DeLuca
            conducted. If the home is then worth $240,000, the       said. “We’re talking nurses, teachers, firemen;
            owners will get $10,000 of the $40,000                   middle-class and working-class folks cannot afford
            appreciation. They sell the home back to the land        to buy property in our area. We have a critical
            trust for the amount they initially paid—$150,000—       affordable housing crisis and that’s what you’re
            plus $10,000, for a total of $160,000. The land trust    seeing in many parts of the country,” she said. “If
            keeps the housing affordable by providing the next       folks want to afford a home, for many people, this is
            buyer with a $70,000 subsidy, holding the                their only option.”
            mortgage down to $170,000, DeLuca said.                     The Champlain Housing Trust is seen as a
               Potential homebuyers not only can buy units built     model for the nation and serves as a mentor to land
            by Champlain, they can also find a home they like        trusts organizing elsewhere, including City First
            but can’t afford in another location and ask to make     Homes, incorporated in Washington, D.C. in
            it part of the land trust, with a subsidy from the       October. Its goal: creating 1,000 units of
            organization to help cover the fair market value cost.   “permanently affordable workforce housing”
                                                                     within three years.


                                                                     “If folks want to own a
                                                                     home, for many people,
                                                                     this is their only option
                                                                     [the land trust].”




14   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
   “It has become increasingly clear that workforce
housing was a challenge that was facing D.C. for
which there were no large-scale solutions,” said
David Wilkinson, executive director of City First
Enterprises, nonprofit parent of City First Homes.
   City First is using a $10-million city grant
coupled with $65 million in private financing,
whose investors will receive federal New Markets
tax credits. The homes will target families at 80
percent of D.C.’s median income, currently at
$94,500 for a family of four.
   Average home prices are nearly $450,000,
Wilkinson said. “A teacher in D.C. in 2000 could
buy one of every three homes. Now, it’s closer to
one in 10. Real estate rates have risen much more
quickly than incomes in D.C. so the city is facing
potential shortages of teachers and health care
workers and others.”
   City First plans to work with developers to build
town homes, single-family homes, condominiums
and cooperatives in mixed-income developments
throughout the District of Columbia, Wilkinson
said. City First will help finance the affordable
housing part of the development which will be
passed along as a 3 percent second mortgage for
the homebuyer.
   For example, on a $300,000 home, the buyer
would take out a $225,000 conventional mortgage.
The remaining $75,000 would come from City First
as a second mortgage, with 3.1 percent interest.
When the buyer later sells the unit, the buyer takes
25 percent of the appreciation.
   “We are told by home ownership counselors and
other real estate market experts across the city that
demand will be very high for this. It will
significantly increase the affordability of units,”
Wilkinson said. Developers like the idea because it
expands the number of potential buyers for their
units, he added.
   Irvine, Calif. is another community establishing
a new land trust. Approved by the city in 2006, its
goal is to create 9,700 units by 2025—10 percent of
Irvine’s housing stock.
   Shared equity housing is “a vision that is
neither impractical nor remote,” the NHI study
said, calling for more resources and research into
such programs. Public and private support are
growing, the study noted, adding, “There are
encouraging signs that third sector housing has         Shared equity housing is
finally arrived.”
                                                        a vision that is neither
Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin
State Journal newspaper in Madison, Wis.                impractical nor remote.



                                                                   WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   15
        A New
        Benefit
        Employer Assisted
        Housing in the
        21st century




16   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
 By Mike Lehrman



I
    n his work entitled “The World is Flat,” Thomas Friedman explained how
    astounding advances in technological collaboration combined with the global
    spread of capitalism have fundamentally altered the way businesses operate.
In a growing global economy, companies are now facing more fierce competition
for business and resources both locally and around the world. This competition
extends to recruiting and retaining a productive workforce.
   As the business landscape continually evolved, the median home price in
the United States increased from $126,000 in 1997 to $228,900 in July of 2007,
an increase of more than 80 percent. As business practices have changed at
an ever increasing rate, so have demands on space in America’s urban areas,
and housing prices have risen dramatically as a result. Skilled workers are
now in higher demand at a time when the price of owning a home is the
highest in history.
   Employers have begun to recognize that in order to remain competitive in
the changing business landscape of the 21st century, they must attract and
retain skilled employees. One way that businesses have increased their
recruitment and retained more employees is by enacting various housing
benefit programs.
   Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) is a term that describes an employer
benefit program that helps employees attain housing in both the rental and
home ownership markets. A financial EAH program can take many different
forms, but is most commonly administered as downpayment assistance,
rental/mortgage assistance, shared equity, forgivable loans, matched savings
or upfront grants.
   According to the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) annual
benefits survey, the number of employers who offer their employees


                                                                     WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   17
            downpayment assistance has increased greatly in         Act,” originally proposed in 2005, provides a
            the past seven years. In 2000, only 3 percent of all    federal tax credit to companies for a portion of the
            employers offered a downpayment assistance              expenses that they incur by offering a housing
            benefit program. In 2007, that number increased         benefit to their employees. Furthermore, this
            significantly to 11 percent of all employers.           legislation treats housing assistance benefits of up
               Rental and mortgage assistance programs have         to $10,000 as nontaxable income for the employee.
            experienced similar increases during the same               Lastly, the legislation creates a competitive
            period. In 2000, only 6 percent of all employers        grant program whereby nonprofit organizations
            offered rental assistance. In 2007, that number         that assist in the administration of EAH programs
            increased to 19 percent, dropping slightly from the     can apply for federal grants to fund their efforts.
            high of 22 percent in 2006. Mortgage assistance         Many times nonprofit organizations offer free
            programs doubled during this time period as well,       credit counseling services to employees who
            increasing from 6 percent to 12 percent.                participate in an EAH program.
               Employers in the most competitive fields with            Enacting such a bill would create a large
            highly skilled workers have turned to these tools as    incentive for employers to offer EAH benefit
            a way of increasing recruitment efforts and             programs to their employees. Despite having
            retaining employees for a longer period of time,        numerous cosponsors, the legislation did not make
            thus increasing productivity and limiting costs.        it to the Senate floor for a vote, but future prospects
            Employers have found that offering a benefit like a     for the bill remain promising.
            forgivable loan can greatly increase retention rates,       As policymakers have become more aware of the
            as employees have a financial incentive to remain       increasing value of EAH programs, so also have
            with the company until the full balance of the loan     federal regulators. In August of 2007, the Office of
            is forgiven. These programs have the potential to       the Comptroller of the Currency released a report
            improve the bottom line of employers who face           entitled     “Understanding        Employer-Assisted
            high turnover rates and engage in competitive           Mortgage Programs: A Primer for National Banks.”
            employee recruitment.                                   The study was released as a response to the

                       SHRM Benefits Survey, 2000-2007              Employers have found
              Benefit    Mortgage
                         Assistance
                                      Rental
                                      Assistance
                                                   Downpayment
                                                   Assistance
                                                                    that offering a benefit
              Yes/No     Yes No       Yes No       Yes   No         like a forgivable loan
              2000
              2001
                         6%
                         9%
                             89%
                             88%
                                      6%
                                      8%
                                          90%
                                          89%
                                                   3%
                                                   5%
                                                         93%
                                                         92%
                                                                    can greatly increase
              2002       7%  94%      5%  95%      4%    96%        retention rates.
              2003       12% 88%      15% 86%      9%    91%
              2004       12% 88%      19% 81%      8%    92%
              2005       13% 87%      21% 79%      9%    91%
              2006       12% 89%      22% 78%      11%   89%
              2007       12% 88%      19% 81%      11%   88%

               As the popularity of EAH expands, it is
            beginning to be recognized among policymakers as
            an important tool which helps to expand home
            ownership and revitalize communities. Despite
            this, currently there is no federal incentive for
            companies to offer employees a housing benefit.
            Companies do not receive any tax incentive for
            offering this kind of benefit program, and unlike
            health, dental or life insurance benefits, employees
            must pay tax on all housing related benefits that
            they receive.
               Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced a bill
            in April of 2007 that would change this portion of
            the tax code. “The Housing America’s Workforce



18   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
            REALTORS® have taken important
             roles to promote EAH programs.
increasing popularity of EAH programs, and was             When Lane heard about the Home From Work™
intended to explain to bankers their responsibility     program, she thought it was a great fit for her efforts
when issuing a loan to a homebuyer who is               in Las Vegas, and she traveled to Denver in late
participating in an EAH benefit program provided        2006 to participate in an NAR sponsored Home
by their employer.                                      From Work™ training session. Lane recognized
   In addition to politicians and federal regulators,   “bringing the employer into partnership with
REALTORS® have also taken a leadership role by          nonprofits and lenders creates another source to
promoting EAH in their own communities. In 2006,        help potential homeowners achieve the dream of
the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®                   home ownership.” She adds, “the program is about
(NAR) launched Home From Work™, an outreach             building goodwill by educating the employers and
and educational campaign that teaches                   educating the public.”
REALTORS® how to assist employers in creating              Lane has successfully achieved that goal,
their own EAH program for their employees.              working with the city councils of Henderson and
   Home From Work™ encourages REALTORS® to              Las Vegas along with a statewide title company to
get involved with lenders and nonprofit groups in       organize eight-hour HUD approved homebuyer
their communities to help promote employer              educational courses for employees who are
assisted housing and increase home ownership            interested in home ownership. Lane is currently
opportunities. Dawn Lane, a REALTOR® from Las           working with these employers to construct an EAH
Vegas, Nev., has done just that.                        financial benefit program that meets their
   In 2002, Lane founded the HOPE program               individual business needs.
(Housing Opportunities, Programs, and Education).          Policymakers, regulators, nonprofits, lenders
The HOPE program is a partnership between               and REALTORS® have taken important roles to
REALTORS®, local lenders and nonprofits to supply       promote EAH programs as viable ways for
HUD-approved home ownership education and               employers to improve their bottom line while
funding to prospective homeowners. Since 2002 the       remaining competitive in the market and
HOPE program has helped prospective homeowners          promoting home ownership and vibrant
find funding from nonprofits and affordable             communities. EAH employee benefit programs are
financing to achieve the dream of home ownership.       a growing trend among companies and can be a
To date, Lane and the HOPE program have helped          valuable tool to help employers recruit and retain a
more than 300 families become homeowners, and           highly skilled workforce in an ever changing
have never lost one to foreclosure.                     business environment.
                                                        Mike Lehrman is an associate in the Housing Opportunity
                                                        Program of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.


                                                                                      WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   19
The
Founda tion
 of
    home
ownership
   REALTOR® Housing Foundations
  are providing innovative solutions
        for affordable housing
             By Brad Broberg




                               WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   21
            J
                 oyce Patton froze in disbelief. Then she                  mortgage-ready was eligible to win a free house if
                 hugged her children. Then she cried. Joy, not             they had not already bought one.
                 sorrow, triggered her tears. Her name had just               Talk about affordable housing! All people had to
            been drawn as the winner of a new home.                        do was show up for the annual drawing—and cross
               Six months later, Patton is still pinching herself.         their fingers.
            “I never win things,” said the Charlotte, N.C.                    “I’ve never seen lives change in one moment
            resident. “Every time I walk in the house, I smile.”           like that,” said Rodney Tucker, executive director of
               Patton’s good fortune was no accident. She earned           the Charlotte HOF. “It was very exciting to see.”
            a chance to put her name in the hat for a 1,500-                  Of course, giving away a home a year—or 10 or
            square-foot home by completing a first-time                    100—won’t solve the country’s affordable housing
            homebuyer education program—all made possible by               crunch anytime soon. But it did build some buzz about
            the Housing Opportunity Foundation (HOF) of the                the buyer education program and provide a creative
            Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association (CRRA).
               Between 2003 and 2007, the CRRA Housing
            Opportunity Foundation teamed up with local
            builders to give away five homes to promote a
            buyer education program it co-sponsored with the
            Charlotte Housing Partnership. Each year,
            everyone who completed the program and became


     Providing a range of
     housing choices at all
     price levels is a principle
     of Smart Growth.



                                                                                     example of how state and local REALTOR®
                                                                                     associations are striving to make housing
                                                                                     more affordable for more people.
                                                                                        Across the country, local REALTORS®
                                                                                     and state REALTOR® associations have
                                                                                     established      REALTOR®        Housing
                                                                                     Foundations. The Foundations are
                                                                                     identifying, developing and promoting
                                                                                     ways to expand affordable housing in
                                                                                     their communities. Today, approximately
                                                                                     300 state and local associations sponsor
                                                                                     programs of their own through their
                                                                                     foundations to assist buyers, renters and
                                                                                     builders of affordable housing.
                                                                                        It’s not just the “right thing to do.”
                                                                                     Providing a range of housing choices at all
                                                                                     price levels is also a principle of Smart
                                                                                     Growth that allows people to live in the
                                                                                     same community where they work,
                                                                                     taming sprawl and curbing the congestion
                                                                                     created by mass commutes.
                                                                                        Beyond that, a healthy supply of
                                                                                     affordable housing creates a more dynamic
                                                                                     market for REALTORS®.
                                     Joyce Patton, winner of a new home through
                                     the first-time, homebuyer education program.

22   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
    “At the end of the day, if people aren’t moving             support a wide range of affordable housing initiatives
 into the first home and building equity, there’s               and organizations in their communities—with more
 never going to be a second home,” said Monica                  and more emphasis on increased production of
 Rodriguez with the California Association of                   workforce housing.
 REALTORS® (CAR). “We’re helping people grab                       How big is the problem? Nearly one-third of
 the first rung of that ladder.”                                Americans worry they will never be able to afford a
    The CAR recognized early on the growing chasm               home and nearly 60 percent are concerned that the
 between incomes and housing prices—and not just for            high cost of housing is hurting their local economy,
 the poor, said Toby Bradley, former president of the           according to a 2006 survey by the NAR’s Housing
 CAR. “Much of the workforce, even the middle class,            Opportunity Program.
 cannot afford housing,” she said. “The statistics are             While individual markets vary widely, the average
 bad all over the country.”                                     monthly mortgage and interest payment climbed from
                               Bradley began pushing            $840 in 2003 to $1,132 in 2006. Other costs associated
                            the issue to the front burner       with home ownership also have risen steeply. The
                            in 2000. Three years later—         Energy Information Administration estimates that
                            during her term as                  between 2005 and 2006, the average price of
                            president of CAR—the                electricity rose 12 percent, natural gas rose 28 percent
                            association launched its            and heating oil rose 25 percent. Meanwhile, annual
                            Housing Affordability Fund.         state and local property taxes climbed from an
                            “The market—supply and              average of $969 per person in 2002 to $1,121 in 2004,
                            demand—wasn’t          taking       according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
                            care of the problem,” she              The lack of affordable housing also is hurting
                            said. “We needed to become          renters. According to the 2006 Housing
                            more proactive.”                    Opportunity Program survey, more than two-thirds
                               Over the years, the CAR’s        of Americans believe that families in their
                            Housing Affordability Fund          community have difficulty paying their rent
                            has awarded $1.8 million            compared to 7 percent who thought so in 2005.
                            to     local     REALTOR®              State and local associations are using many
                            Associations in California,         different models to attack the problem. The New
                            which have used it to               Jersey Association of REALTORS® (NJAR) Housing
                                                                                 Opportunity Foundation awards some
                                                                                 money to local associations to support
                                                                                 various projects of their choosing, but
                                                                                 most goes to New Jersey Community
                                                                                 Capital     (NJCC),      a    nonprofit
                                                                                 corporation that finances the creation
                                                                                 and preservation of housing and
                                                                                 commercial real estate.
                                                                                    Since 2004, the NJAR Housing
                                                                                 Opportunity Fund has given more
                                                                                 than $200,000 to NJCC, including
                                                                                 $57,900 in 2007. The money helps
                                                                                 support a program that supplies
                                                                                 pre-development financing for
                                                                                 affordable housing—both homes and
                                                                                 apartments—developed by nonprofit
                                                                                 and community organizations.
                                                                                    Examples include redevelopment
                                          Pleasantville, New Jersey              of the F. Berg Hat Manufacturing Co.
                                                                                 in Orange. When completed, the
                                                                                 converted factory will include a mix of
Nearly one-third of Americans                                                   35 market-rate and affordable housing
                                                                                units. Other projects supported by the
worry they will never be able                                                   Housing Opportunity Fund include
                                                                                the development of 10 apartments in
to afford a home.                                                               Montclair and two single-family
                                                                                homes in Pleasantville.



                                                                                             WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   23
               Although $200,000 is a relative drop in the              Grants from the CAR Housing Affordability
            bucket, the money provides pre-development               Fund have helped local associations support a
            financing that many organizations are unable to          variety of strategies to achieve that goal, including
            obtain from more traditional sources. “Partnering        housing trusts. The Marin Association of
            with New Jersey Community Capital enables us to          REALTORS® received $150,000 to support the
            leverage our contribution to make a much larger          Marin Workforce Housing Trust (MWHT), which
            impact on the supply of affordable housing               provides low-interest loans to housing developers
            throughout the state,” said Teresa Tilton, director of   that construct homes and apartments affordable to
            political affairs and member services for NJAR.          lower- and moderate-income families.
               The NJAR also strives to make an impact by               According to the MWHT, the median price of a
            showing its members examples of successful               single-family home in Marin County is $899,000
            affordable housing initiatives. Every year, the NJAR     forcing many local workers—teachers, nurses,
            joins with the New York and Pennsylvania                 police officers, clerks—to commute long distances
            associations to hold the Triple Play Convention in
            Atlantic City. And every year, the Housing
            Opportunity Fund sponsors a bus tour of                  “We care about affordable
            redevelopment projects in Atlantic City—many of
            which include affordable housing.                        housing and helping all
               “It’s a way to show our members the new face of
            affordable housing and give them ideas that they
                                                                     members of the community
            can take back to their communities,” said Tilton.
               Member donations account for much of the
                                                                     get into a house.”
            money REALTOR® associations use to support
            affordable housing initiatives. Other major sources
            include fund-raising events, a slice of association
            dues and—where state law allows—interest from
            earnest money in escrow accounts.
               The Colorado Association of REALTORS® relies
            on escrow interest to fund its Housing Opportunity
            Foundation. With an annual budget of between
            $300,000 and $500,000, it awards grants to housing
            organizations that help first-time homebuyers, the
            homeless and victims of natural disasters and
            domestic violence.
               The foundation also helps families in danger of
            losing their homes. Last year, it gave the Colorado
            Division of Housing $30,000 to help launch a new
            Foreclosure Prevention Call Center. The center—
            the first of its kind in the country—connects
            homeowners involved in foreclosures with
            counselors who help them find options to eviction.
               As the rising cost of housing has priced more and
            more people out of the market, the term affordable
            housing—often stigmatized as low-income
            housing—is being replaced by the term workforce
            housing to better reflect that it isn’t just “poor”
            families who can’t afford to buy a home. In
            California, for example, only 14 percent of the
            state’s households can afford a median priced
            home, according to the CAR.
               “We certainly can’t solve the problem on our own
            or address the problem in a comprehensive
            fashion,” said Rodriguez. “But we want to show we
            are at the table, and we care about affordable
            housing and helping all members of the community
            get into a house.”




24   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
      The fund helps low- to moderate-income
      families qualify for a conventional loan.
from surrounding counties. As a result, traffic          In Charlotte, the Home Giveaway Program
clogs the roads, workers lose time with their         generated plenty of publicity, but the CRRA
families and employers struggle to hire and retain    Housing Opportunity Foundation is not a one-trick
quality employees.                                    pony. Among other activities, the foundation also
   Given Marin County’s location—it’s directly        conducts a Workforce Housing Certificate Program
across the Golden Gate Bridge from San                that helps REALTORS® learn how to work with first-
Francisco—the high price of housing is not            time homebuyers. The program includes
unexpected. But housing costs are also a problem      participation in Home from Work™.
three hours away in sparsely populated Calaveras         Developed by the NAR, Home from Work™
County, where demand from retirees and people         teaches REALTORS® to work with employers to
buying vacation homes is pricing the local            develop housing benefit plans that offer buyer
workforce out of the market as well.                  education, downpayment assistance, loan
   “You’d be hard-pressed to find a house here for    guarantee programs and other forms of
less than $350,000—even a small one,” said Tim        assistance to their workers.
Muetterties, a local REALTOR® and current chair of       That’s just the sort of hand up that gives working
the board of trustees of the CAR Housing              men and women like Joyce Patton a shot at home
Opportunity Fund.                                     ownership. As it turns out, the luck of the draw was
   Compared to Marin County, that may sound like      all Patton needed. Yet the single mother of three—
a bargain, but incomes in Calaveras County are        who went back to college to study electrical
about one-third as much as incomes in the Bay Area    engineering and now designs distribution systems
and many members of the workforce end up leaving      for the local power company—was on track to buy a
to find more affordable housing. “The American        home on her own thanks to the financing options
Dream is to own a home, and if you can’t find a       and access to downpayment assistance she gained
place you can afford, you’re going to move            through the buyer education program.
someplace where you can,” said Muetterties.              “I feel like I should carry cards with information
   To stem the tide, the Calaveras County             [about the program] to pass around to people,”
Association of REALTORS® established a Housing        she said.
Assistance Fund, receiving a $19,000 grant from the   Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer
CAR Housing Opportunity Fund and raising              specializing in business and development issues. His
$19,000 on its own to get the program started. The    work appears regularly in the Puget Sound Business
fund helps low- to moderate-income families qualify   Journal and the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.
for a conventional loan by providing downpayment
assistance or buying down the interest rate.




                                                                                    WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   25
                                                   Transit-



                                    O
                                            nce the site of Denver’s historic Elitch gardens and
                                            amusement park, Highlands’ Garden Village in Colorado
                                            might just be one of the best examples of recent transit-
                                    oriented development and Smart Growth around.
                                       The approximately $105 million project created by Jonathan
                                    Rose Companies boasts a bus line just 10 minutes from downtown;
                                    75,000 square feet of retail space; schools; a theater; a carousel;
                                    140,000 square feet of open space—and every bit of it is tastefully
                                    entwined with dozens of lofts, multi-family residences, town homes,
                                    single-family houses, senior residences and carriage houses.


26   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
                                                                                                Portland, Oregon




Oriented                                                              By Amanda Kramer




Developments
Affordable choices: Connecting
communities to the workplace


    Jonathan Rose Developer Chuck Perry said the project, which
 was completed in 2007, has been a rousing success. And for a site
 that may have been considered “underutilized” a few years ago,
 Perry said, the Highlands’ area in Denver is now basking in the
 light of its successful marriage of transportation lines and life—
 the key to transit-oriented development, or “TOD.”
    “These (TODs) are the wave of the future,” said Perry. “We
 need to be continually working to create dense, mixed-use,
 mixed-income communities.”




                                                                            WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND 27
                                                                           WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND 27
       TODs address affordable housing
          What Perry is saying—and what he’s helping to
       build—isn’t far off the mark.
          According to the Center for Housing Policies’
       most recent report, “A Heavy Load: The Combined
       Housing and Transportation Burdens of Working
       Families,” a growing number of cities across the
       United States are identifying a lack of affordable
       housing, an increase in commute times and traffic
       congestion as high-priority issues. In fact, the study
       suggests that it’s critical for cities or regions
       throughout the United States to constantly consider
       both a housing and transportation policy—together.
          Mariia Zimmerman, vice president of policy for
       Reconnecting America, spends much of her time
       studying the impacts and policies surrounding
       current transportation-oriented development and
       how her organization can improve federal policy’s
       investment in the trend.
          Zimmerman,        whose      national     nonprofit
       organization works to integrate transportation
       systems and the communities those systems serve,
       said the benefits of living in a TOD can be far-
       reaching—and all touch on the issues identified in
       the Center’s study.
          “If you’re looking at one development versus a
       TOD community, there’s much more benefit if it’s
       part of a whole community strategy,” Zimmerman
       said. “We see households who live near transit own
       a half a car less and spend less on transit. There are
       other benefits if you’re in a vibrant, mixed-income,
       walkable neighborhood—you’re getting more
       exercise, there’s nice engaging open space …
       you’re creating great places.”
          “For the developer, the positives are that there’s
       more of a price premium for the TOD units—even
       with the higher cost it takes to do many of these
       projects. I think at its most basic element that’s
       what’s appealing for development,” Zimmerman
       continued. “The retail mixed-use side is still hard
       for the developer and may have slower immediate
       return, but the unit can maintain itself over the
       longer-time horizon.”
          Zimmerman said Reconnecting America has
       looked at the issue of incorporating mixed-income
       housing into TOD communities.
          “With a lot of urban markets there’s concern
       about gentrification and displacement,” she said.
       “There’s a growing interest in seeing if there are
       ways we can create mixed-income TODs so we
       have units available for people with a range of




ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
incomes, working families as well as some low-            $519,” Perry said. “I believe that the key to effective
income households.”                                       TOD is going to be to ensure there are mixed-
    Perry said he finds the issue of mixed-income         income communities and they create a sense of
housing critical to the future of TODs. He said his       place and a sense of community.”
company considered and incorporated varying                  Perry said another older, but still thriving, TOD
housing costs into the Highlands’ project.                his company worked on was the Denver Dry Goods
    “The reactions have been very positive particularly   Building renovation and renewal. Adjacent to a
here—and what people really recognized is that            light rail line and completed in phases from 1993 to
we’ve created a sense of space, very pedestrian-          1999, the downtown historic department store was
friendly. It’s an inter-generational community and        redeveloped into housing, offices and retail stores
the most significant thing is that you can stand at the   using a handful of “green,” or environmentally
bottom of a picture (of the development) and see          friendly, features and attention to detail. Perry said
town houses for $300,000 or apartments that rent for      other developers had simply suggested the space


    “These (TODs) are the wave of the future.”
                                                                                                Highlands’ Garden Village in Colorado




                                                                                        WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND               29
                                                                              Dry Goods building renovation in Denver, Colorado


                                                                    The future of TODs
            The key to effective                                       Currently, Zimmerman said Reconnecting
            TOD is going to be                                      America is just beginning to research current
                                                                    trends in TOD and its future.
            to ensure there are                                        “I can’t say where it is right now,” Zimmerman
                                                                    said. “Anecdotally, what we’re hearing is it does
            mixed-income                                            depend on the market. In the Twin Cities, some
                                                                    people are putting plans for TODs on hold. In the
            communities.                                            D.C. area; Charlotte, North Carolina; and the Bay
                                                                    area and the L.A. area in California, we’re hearing
            be used as retail, but his company felt the project     that the market is healthy in terms of sales and
            would fare better and serve more if the TOD model       prices—from all income levels. It actually appears
            were used on the 350,000-square-foot space.             to be holding its own.”
               Perry said aside from focusing on mixed-income          Whether waxing or waning, though,
            projects, he also strives to plan TODs that are as      transportation planner Katherine Perez said it’s
            gentle to the environment as possible. For the Dry      simply smart to realize that TOD could and should
            Goods renovation, Perry said his company                play an important role in future development
            contracted with an organization to create an energy     across the country.
            model for the building and incorporated a set of           Perez, who currently serves as vice president of
            energy-saving features like rebuilding historic         development for Forest City Development in
            windows with double-paned glass, using low VOC          California and is often on the “front end” of
            paints and glues, and installing a cooling system       development projects, said there are a number of
            that uses evaporative techniques. All are features to   issues inherent to TODs that are important for
            maintain a home’s affordability into the future.        developers and real estate professionals to




30   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
               understand. TOD planning that addresses the need     design—the best kind of land use and transit
               for live/work environments and affordable housing    pairing, they understand the value of transit.”
               options must be a priority.                             Perez said that as for the future of TOD,
                  “The real estate market is really going through   developers across the United States may want to
               some tough times,” Perez said. “What cities and      pay attention to overseas models.
               residents and community folks should be doing           “They’re in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo,” Perez
               right now—if they have a corridor and a busline—     commented. “They’ve marshaled sustainability—
               is planning these TODs.”                             and comparatively, affordability—and they’re good
                  Perez said some TOD markets are mature while      at that. They’ve marshaled technology, and on the
               some are not there yet.                              transit side they make it very efficient. If you miss a
                  “New York and Boston are mature, and Portland     train there’s another in 30 seconds.”
               is sort of the gold standard of TOD,” Perez             Perez said models for the best in TODs can be
               remarked. “They really do the best kind of urban     found outside the country—where the fear of
                                                                    density and entrepreneurship often inherent to this
                                                                    type of development is nowhere to be found.
               TOD could and                                           “We’ve got a lot to learn from overseas partners
               should play an                                       and colleagues—how we take good ideas and not be
                                                                    afraid to cherry pick them, and how to be ambitious
               important role in                                    with this stuff,” Perez said. “We’re not there yet, but
                                                                    we will get there, in my lifetime, for sure.”
               future development.                                  Amanda Kramer is a freelance writer from Evansville, Wis.




Portland, Oregon                                                                                  WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   31
                 The American
                 Communities are attempting
                 to ensure affordable rentals




32   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
Dream …               By Steve Wright




of Affordable Rental Housing




                     WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   3
            I
                f home ownership is the American Dream, then
                lack of affordable rental housing is the
                American Nightmare.
               For a huge percentage of Americans—those who
            are part of the increasing low-wage workforce,
            elderly, disabled, entry-level professionals, even
            mid-level wage earners in expensive big cities—
            renting makes more sense than home ownership.
               While the need for affordable rental housing has
            never been greater, the uphill battle to preserve
            existing affordable housing has never been steeper.
               A number of factors—an endless maze of U.S.
            Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
            regulations, the lure of market-rate rent earnings,
            high land values, perplexing local building codes—
                                                                          Chicago, Illinois
            threaten to diminish an affordable rental housing
            inventory that already fails to meet the rising
            demand for it.
               The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur                    A number of factors
            Foundation is supporting a 10-year, $75 million
            initiative to preserve and improve affordable rental         threaten to diminish
            housing across the country.
               The foundation’s “Window of Opportunity:                  an affordable rental
            Preserving Affordable Rental Housing” goal is to
            directly support the preservation and improvement
                                                                         housing inventory.
            of 100,000 affordable rental homes and to
            significantly improve the regulatory and funding                  from which to successfully maintain, manage
            environment for preservation through policy                       and operate properties that are affordable to
            reforms at local, state and federal levels.                       low- and moderate-income renters.
               “Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing               • Transactions. Current housing programs and
            Studies reports that over the past 10 years, two                  regulations are fragmented, cumbersome,
            existing units were lost for every affordable rental              often unpredictable and inconsistently applied.
            newly built,” said Debra Schwartz, director of                    Transactions that would transfer properties to
            Program-Related Investments for the MacArthur                     new owners committed to preserving
            Foundation. “Without concerted action, our nation’s               affordability and providing good long-term
            stock of affordable rental housing is projected to fall by        stewardship are difficult, costly and slow.
            another million units or more in the decade ahead.”             In the Chicago region, the MacArthur
               “It is expected that by the end of 2007, more than        Foundation is breaking barriers by funding the
            $3.5 billion in new long-term subsidy and financing          Preservation Compact, an Urban Land Institute
            will have been invested in ‘Window of Opportunity’           project that will save at least 75,000 existing
            projects at an average cost of roughly $80,000 per           affordable homes in Cook County by the year 2020.
            home,” she added. “This is significantly less than              The compact is working to create more
            the cost to build a new affordable rental unit               responsive and flexible financing from investors,
            anywhere in the country today.”                              expedited approvals or tax incentives from the
               Schwartz, sharing observations she and MacArthur          public sector and creative development strategies
            colleague Erika Poethig delivered at a HUD                   both from for-profit and nonprofit developers.
            symposium, identified three barriers to affordable              One recent victory involved the Lorrington
            housing preservation that must be overcome:                  Apartments in Chicago’s Logan Square
               • Properties. Current resources, incentives and           neighborhood, which has been affordable since
                  requirements tied to affordable rental                 1985. The building owner’s Section 8 contract was
                  properties do not adequately encourage or              expiring, and he was ready to sell.
                  require owners to preserve long-term                      With housing costs steadily rising in the popular
                  affordability or to sell to other owners               neighborhood, the classic building’s 54 units could
                  committed to that objective.                           have easily been sold to a for-profit condo
               • Ownership. Current policies also limit the              conversion developer.
                  ability of owners to recapitalize, earn sufficient        But a combination of public, private and
                  cash flow and build a sustainable capital base         nonprofit agencies preserved them as affordable.



34   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
         The nation’s largest nonprofit developer      housing tax credits and bonds, $63 million in loans
         bought, rehabilitated and now manages         and $39 million in tax-increment financing.
         the building—with a contract ensuring            Additional money will come from the Illinois
         affordable rental prices through 2027.        Housing Development Authority, the Federal Home
            A case study provided by the               Loan Bank and private investors and lenders.
         Preservation Compact explains that the           Without such aggressive programs, the nation’s
         pre-development financing was provided        lack of affordable rental housing will continue to
         by a nonprofit lender specializing in         create dire consequences, according to Sheila
         emerging markets. Crucial financing was       Crowley, president of the National Low Income
         provided by both the state of Illinois        Housing Coalition.
         through tax credits and a housing trust
         fund and the city of Chicago via bonds
         and Community Development Block
         Grant funds.
                                                       The city of Chicago will
            In August, Chicago Mayor Richard
         Daley announced that the city will help
                                                       help create nearly 2,700
         create nearly 2,700 affordable rental units   affordable rental units
for low- and moderate-income households in 29
developments in neighborhoods across the city.         for low- and moderate-
   The city’s $277 million contribution to the
multiyear project includes $175 million low-income     income households.
                                                                 Block grant-funded development in San Antonio, Texas




                                                                                       WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUN
                  A national housing trust fund
              would be a tool for reinvesting in
               affordable housing preservation.




               “Communities are incomplete,” she said. “People       housing. HUD needs to preserve the stock it has to
            who do jobs that the community needs—hospital            remain competitive in the market. At the end of the
            aids, cashiers—these folks must work more than           day, the problem is budgetary—(the federal)
            one job and are left with fewer hours for family time.   domestic discretionary budget is low.”
            There are health and education consequences.”               Crowley also called on HUD to provide help to
               “Kids who are in families who don’t have              maintain the aging housing stock that was created
            affordable housing move from school to school,”          with its dollars.
            she added. “With these increased rates of school            “The federal government needs to put more
            mobility—churning through school system to               money into this. A national housing trust fund
            school system—they don’t learn and are trying to         would be a tool for reinvesting in affordable
            catch up. Teachers in the classroom must devote          housing preservation,” Crowley said.
            extra time to them, which has a negative effect on          Recently, in additional efforts to preserve
            the quality of schools.”                                 affordable housing, the House passed the
               Crowley said for owners who want to get out of        “National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of
            HUD’s rule, there should be incentives to                2007,” which will create a national fund to be used
            encourage them to sell to nonprofits that will           to produce, rehabilitate and preserve affordable
            maintain the apartments as affordable rentals.           housing. The funds could also be used for home
               “If you have a property that is in a declining        ownership assistance including downpayment and
            neighborhood, you tolerate it,” she said of HUD          closing costs.
            hurdles. “But if the neighborhood is improving,             The obstacles preventing affordable rental
            then you’re motivated to get out of affordable           housing preservation could be further removed by:



36   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
More affordable rental housing can be
preserved by providing tax relief to owners
of aging, low-income housing portfolios.
states and counties matching the dollars that come            air, congest the roads, lower productivity and
from HUD, affordable developers creating good                 increase absenteeism.
community relations programs that erase                     • There is a negative impact on community life
neighborhood opposition and some sort of                      because people don’t identify with either their
incentive or device that would assist developers in           work community or their home community and
overcoming regulatory barriers at the local level.            are on the freeway when they could be coaching
   Denise Muha, executive director of the National            Little League or volunteering at the hospital.
Leased Housing Association, said a lack of                  • The incidence of substandard housing
affordable housing rentals can result in problems             increases as tenants don’t have decent choices,
ranging from an insufficient amount of service                so they accept whatever dwelling they can find.
workers to keep an economy going to dangerous               • Overcrowding results in both apartments and
situations where 10 or more people are crammed                houses. When housing is unaffordable, two
into a tiny housing unit.                                     families will double-up to rent housing.
   “Owners’ decisions to renew the contracts or             • Illegal conversions—usually garages, but any
terminate their low-income use are generally                  structures not intended to be housing—create
market based, but can be attributed to something              an unsafe supply of rental housing to meet
we call ‘HUD fatigue,’” which Muha defined as                 demand in the underground economy.
owners “just getting tired of dealing with the HUD          • Employers cannot find workers to fill essential,
layers of rules and changing policies and recently            but lower paying, jobs.
HUD’s inability to pay its bills—specifically,              • Many young families leave the area and most
subsidy on Section 8 contracts. Many owners have              others can’t afford to move in, so an expensive
waited one or more months for their funds, leaving            area’s population becomes older very quickly.
them late in paying mortgages, etc.”                          School population declines and perfectly good
   Muha said more affordable rental housing can               schools close for lack of students.
be preserved by providing tax relief to owners of           As National Church Residences continues to
aging Section 8 (low-income housing) portfolios in       expand beyond its traditional portfolio of affordable
exchange for selling the properties to new owners        housing for elderly and disabled people and tackles
that will recapitalize them to remain affordable for     more diversified projects for all ages and
years to come.                                           populations, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions
   She notes that current tax laws act as a              and Development Michelle Norris sees a need for
disincentive for investors in certain properties to      more flexibility from HUD.
consent to a sale to a new entity that would                “HUD headquarters must help steer the deal
rehabilitate and extend the life of affordable           through the complicated old regulations that seem
apartment complexes.                                     to want to trip up every deal and expedite the
   “It is shameful that in the richest country in the    timing. Preservation often takes longer to do than
world, a worker earning two times the minimum            new construction, which means we aren’t reaching
wage is living in substandard housing or doing           as many communities as we should quickly
without sufficient food, medicine, etc. to pay the       enough.” Norris said.
rent,” Muha said. “Americans have lost interest and         “Preservation is complicated, often frustrating
as a result, so has our federal government, in           and hard to execute with excellence,” she
ensuring that our citizens have a decent and safe        continued. “However, when it is done right, it is
place to live. Until housing becomes a priority on the   absolutely the right thing to do. It is more
national agenda, there will be families and elderly      economical than building new, it is inherently
and disabled folks living in substandard housing.”       green, it allows residents to stay in their
   Julie Bornstein, president of the Campaign for        communities and it creates partnership and great
Affordable Housing, can easily tick off a list of the    pride in all who are involved in saving the housing.”
consequences of not preserving a healthy inventory
                                                         Steve Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth
of safe, well-located and affordable housing:            and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in
   • Workers are pushed farther away from jobs and       a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little
     must endure long commutes that pollute the          Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com.




                                                                                        WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   37
            BUILDING STRONG         By Christine Sexton




38   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
COMMUNITIES
Housing options for those who protect, serve and teach




                                      Builders develop Barrington Village
                                      in Raleigh, North Carolina



                                      WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND          39
            A
                   simple act of Christmas charity has become     executive director of the San Diego Association of
                   the inspiration for an innovative effort to    REALTORS® (SDAR) and the driving force behind
                   help those who help everyone else.             the group’s new program, Everyday Heroes,
               Years ago, Tim Mercurio was a Cincinnati           administered by the recently developed SDAR
            policeman who one Christmas Eve decided to bring      Ambassador Foundation.
            home a woman and her two kids caught shoplifting         The goal of Everyday Heroes is to provide
            instead of put in jail. This random act of kindness   education and financial preparation, as well as buy
            resonated with one of the kids, who years later as    down mortgage loan interest rates, for up to 10
            part of a school project, wrote a letter to the       qualifying San Diego Police Department officers by
            policeman, identifying him as a hero.                 the end of 2007. It’s part of a trend across the
               The incident left a lasting impression on Mike     nation where REALTORS® are helping to provide
            Mercurio, the son of the kindly policeman. “I never   workforce housing to those who serve, protect,
            looked at him the same again,” said Mercurio, the     teach and care for Americans.
                                                                     “I saw the challenges my dad had. I can only
                                                                  imagine the challenges these men and women
                                                                  have,” Mercurio said of San Diego police officers.
                                                                     The first phase of the program will assist police
                                                                  officers, but Mercurio envisions that after the
                                                                  Ambassadors Foundation receives its tax free


                                                                  REALTORS® are helping
                                                                  to provide workforce
                                                                  housing to those who
                                                                  serve, protect, teach and
                                                                  care for Americans.




40   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
designation from the federal government, it can
blossom further, extending to firefighters and other     They really need to live
municipal employees who may not be able to afford
homes in the zip codes where they work.                  in the cities they are so
   “They really need to live in the cities they are so
vested in serving,” Mercurio said.                       vested in serving.
   The Everyday Heroes program is funded in part
by the Ambassadors for Cities grant program, which
is funded by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
REALTORS® in partnership with the United States
Conference of Mayors. Funding for Everyday
Heroes comes from other sources as well, including
a recent golf outing that raised $25,000 and an
upcoming benefit dinner.
   Those who have an interest in vying for the
officers’ business, such as REALTORS® and
mortgage bankers, also have to contribute to the
program, by paying a $49 fee and registering for the
ABCs course, or Ambassador Buyer Certification,
which helps them help first-time homebuyers.
   To qualify for the program police officers must
have served on the force between two and five
years and must also be a first time homeowner.
Prequalified officers will be offered access to              Eure helped develop the Hertford Pointe
educational programs and be given information            complex, which boasts 24 apartments. The units
about other organizations and programs in the city       have two bedrooms, two baths, a living room, an
that promote home ownership.                             updated kitchen, a dining area and laundry room.
   Teachers, too, are often held out as heroes, and      They rent for $500 per month and profits will be used
similar to police officers, can be locked out of         to pay off the $2.2 million interest-free loan issued by
affordable housing in the communities where they         State Employees Credit Union Foundation, the
work. In Hertford County, N.C., young teachers           charitable arm of Eure’s credit union.
fresh out of college cannot find affordable rental           The school system donated the land, the town
units in the county. At times, the lack of available     and county extended utility lines, and private
rental housing meant the county couldn’t hire            businesses donated money. Hertford County
enough teachers. James Eure, senior vice president       School District Executive Director Betty Pugh had
of the State Employees Credit Union and president        an easier time recruiting teachers this year, and she
of the Partners for Hertford County Public Schools,      knows that the Hertford Pointe apartment complex
helped broker a deal that changed all that.              is the reason.


                                                                                        WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   41
               “We’ve just about filled all of our positions,” said      Municipal employees and teachers are not the
            Pugh, who has asked the teachers living at Herford        only people struggling with affordable housing
            Pointe to comment on apartment living. New                options. For 13 years, Wilma Stuart Hall has
            teacher Nathaniel Glossen works at the Hertford           worked for the North Carolina General Assembly
            County High School. In an e-mail to Pugh, Glossen         as support staff in the committee charged with
            said he walks to and from work in six minutes and         legislative research.
            that living near his peers also helped make his              Hall, whose parents owned the house she was
            transition as a new teacher in a new town easier.         raised in, never thought she’d be a renter. But after
               “Having so many people nearby that are in the          getting divorced and running into some credit
            same boat as I am has definitely made my                  problems, she found herself renting. “I fell into that
            transition as a first year teacher much easier,”          trap,” she said, adding that she eventually was able to
            Glossen wrote. “As far as Hertford Pointe’s ability to    clean up her credit and save toward a down payment.
            help the county retain teachers, all I can say is that       The dream of home ownership still eluded her,
            it would be very difficult to find another setting        though, because the North Carolina state employee
            with as much initial community support! Thank             couldn’t afford the house she wanted; the median
            you for everything!”                                      home cost in Raleigh is more than $223,000.
               Eure said 21 of the 24 units at Hertford Pointe           “I was always told to buy the neighborhood and
            are rented to teachers who came from out of state         not the house,” she said. “I don’t want to go to any
            and are new to the school system. “When you’re            neighborhood. I want a safe place to live.”
            coming from Michigan, you really need a place to             Hall’s “safe place” is Barrington Village, a
            live, where you can just sign a contract and move         community in southeast Raleigh developed by
            in,” he said.                                             North Carolina based Builders of Hope, a nonprofit
                                                                      organization that partners with local businesses,
                                                                      humanitarian organizations and local government
                                                                      entities to create opportunities for working families
                                                                      who cannot afford to purchase homes.
                                                                         Builders of Hope not only offers access to
                                                                      affordable homes, it provides an opportunity for
                                                                      homeowners to go green. That’s because
                                                                      Barrington Village is comprised completely of
                                                                      recycled homes, or 60s and 70s era housing that is
                                                                      being demolished because new homeowners want
                                                                      larger more upscale homes on the lots. The homes,
                                                                      said Builders of Hope Founder and Executive
                                                                      Director Nancy Murray, would have wound up as
                                                                      debris in a landfill had they not been donated.
                                                                         Murray’s 501 (c)(3) organization works with
                                                                      local builders to find donated homes. A mover helps
                                                                      her relocate the houses. She sets them on new
                                                                      foundations and then works on refurbishing,
                                                                      plumbing and wiring the homes. Barrington Village
                                                                      was established on land in southeast Raleigh that
                                                                      Murray owns. The homes were sold at below market
                                                                      rates to buyers who earn less than $65,000—the
                                                                      median income in Raleigh for a family of two.
                                                                         Barrington Village is replete with landscaping,
                                                                      lantern post street lights and also is designed to
                                                                      have a community center. It’s about 15 minutes
      Municipal employees and                                         from downtown Raleigh and perfect for Hall,
                                                                      because its close to the Capitol.
      teachers are not the only                                          Hall is working closely with the contractors on
                                                                      some of the finer refurbishing details of her
      people struggling with                                          Barrington Village home, such as interior and
                                                                      exterior paint colors. She also is going to take down
      affordable housing options.                                     a wall in her house, remodeling the space.
                                                                         “I’m going to get that walk-in closet, which is
                                                                      tremendous,” she said.



42   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
Barrington Village is replete with landscaping,
lantern post street lights and also is designed
to have a community center.
   After success with Barrington Village in Wake
County, Murray is working on developing her second
workforce housing community in neighboring Nash
County. As with Barrington Village, the community
will be made from recycled homes.
   Murray is taking this project one step further,
though, trying to place an emphasis on making
these 40- and 50-year-old homes more energy
efficient and healthier but keep the improvements
affordable. To that end she has asked North
Carolina State University to assist in her efforts.
   Murray says it’s logical to make the homes more
energy efficient because high electricity, water and
gas bills can undermine a family that already is
living on workforce wages.
   “It is an often occurrence that these lower income              Volunteer Day at Barrington Village

families are faced with the decision of paying an
electric bill, or putting gas in the car,” Murray said.
“It’s a worthwhile pursuit to help these families
overcome the hurdle of high utility bills that too often
contribute to the epidemic of foreclosure.”
Christine Jordan Sexton is a Tallahassee-based
freelance reporter who has done correspondent work
for the Associated Press, the New York Times, Florida
Medical Business and a variety of trade magazines,
including Florida Lawyer and National Underwriter.


                   Barrington Village in Raleigh, North Carolina




                                                                                                    WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   43
                 The

                   l e p
                    ip s e ry
                  S p
                   S l o            of




44   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
Affordable
Employee
 Housing
 Resort areas are searching for creative
solutions to employee housing concerns
            By John Van Gieson

                                 WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   45
              F
                    rom Maui to Martha’s Vineyard to the slopes         “The problem is really caused by the second-
                    of Aspen and Vail, resort areas across the       home market in the town of Mammoth Lakes, and
                    country are struggling with the issue of         in the last 10 years it has skyrocketed, which
              affordable housing for their workers. The housing      essentially squeezed our middle class workforce
              crunch, fueled by escalating housing prices in         into a situation where there was a big housing
              resort areas, affects both seasonal workers seeking    shortage,” said Pam Hennarty, housing director for
              temporary apartments and year-round residents,         the town of Mammoth Lakes, a popular ski resort in
                                                                                            California’s Eastern Sierra
                                                                                            mountains.
                                                                                               The booming market for
                                                                                            high-end homes is raising
                                                                                            the price of all housing in
                                                                                            resort areas and forcing
                                                                                            many workers to move
                                                                                            further away in search of a
                                                                                            home they can afford. In the
                                                                                            Rockies,      they   call   it
                                                                                            “down valley syndrome”—
                                                                                            the resorts are on the high
                                                                                            end of the valley so the
                                                                                            workers move down valley in
                                                                                            search of affordable housing,
                                                                                            leading to longer commutes
                                                                                            in hazardous winter weather.
                                                                                            The problem is, housing
                                                                                            officials say, higher housing
                                                                                            prices follow the workers
                                                                                            down the valley.
                                                                                               In Nantucket, a summer
                                                                                            resort island 30 miles off
                                                                                            the southern coast of
 Nantucket, Massachusetts affordable housing for island employees.                          Massachusetts, the average
                                                                                            home sells for about
                                                                                            $2 million and the median
              The booming market                                     income is $81,900. “Workers seeking affordable
                                                                     housing, some of whom were born and raised on
              for high-end homes is                                  the island, take a look at those price tags and say,
                                                                     ‘You know, I’ll never be able to afford a house here,
              raising the price of all                               so I’m leaving,’” said Aaron Marcavitch, executive
                                                                     director of the Nantucket Housing Office.
              housing in resort areas.                                  Dennis Gazaille, owner of the Marine Home
                                                                     Center, a popular multi-purpose Nantucket store,
              many of them local government employees, who           actually provides an air ferry for about one-third of
              can’t find a home they can afford.                     his workers, who commute to their jobs from the
                 “We’re way behind the eight ball,” said Tom         mainland. “I need workers or I can’t open my store
              McCabe, executive director of the Aspen/Pitkin         in the morning,” he said. “In addition to flying 35
              County Housing Authority in Colorado.                  people a day, we also have apartment rental units
                 When it comes to worker housing, resort areas       that accommodate 30 workers. You do what you
              are a victim of their own success. They are            have to do.”
              attractive communities typically located in scenic-       Resort communities are implementing a wide
              mountain and coastal settings, and high-end            variety of potential solutions to the resort housing
              homebuyers want a piece of the action, if only part-   crunch—although few are as creative as Air
              time. Housing officials grappling with the problem     Gazaille. The range of affordable housing options
              in Rocky Mountain ski resorts say a booming            in resort areas includes:
              second-home market is devastating the affordable          • Passing inclusionary housing ordinances
              housing market in the towns they serve.                     requiring developers to provide a certain



46   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
                                                                                           Aspen, Colorado

  percentage of affordable units as a condition
  for building market-rate homes, condos and
  apartments. In Maui, for example, developers
                                                      Resort communities are
  are required to provide up to one affordable          implementing a wide
  unit for every two market-rate units.
• Linking the production of affordable housing            variety of potential
  to new construction in other ways. The town of
  Vail, Colo., uses a formula providing for a          solutions to the resort
  certain square footage of affordable housing
  with different standards for different kinds of
                                                             housing crunch.
  projects. REALTORS® oppose the Vail
  ordinance, saying it imposes unfair burdens            • Requiring resorts to pay housing subsidies to
  on the expansion of real estate offices.                 their lower-income workers. The city of Dana
• Levying transfer taxes on the sale of expensive          Point, Calif., has required the new St. Regis
  homes with the revenue paying for affordable             Emerald Point Resort to pay workers’ housing
  housing programs. Aspen approved a                       subsidies averaging $210 a month.
  1 percent transfer tax in 1990, which raises           • Encouraging resorts such as ski areas to
  $11 million a year for worker housing.                   provide affordable housing for their seasonal
  Developers rebelled, however, and Colorado               workers. Mammoth Mountain ski area advises
  voters passed a constitutional amendment in              job applicants on its Web site that “Our current
  1992 that bans transfer taxes in other                   inventory of more than 600 beds offers a wide
  communities. Aspen was grandfathered in.                 variety of comfortable and inexpensive
  Local officials in Nantucket and Martha’s                housing within the town of Mammoth Lakes.”
  Vineyard are asking the Massachusetts                  Resort communities have turned to many
  Legislature to increase their transfer taxes on     different options in their struggle to provide
  expensive homes to raise several million            affordable housing for local and seasonal workers,
  dollars for worker housing programs.                but housing advocates say they still have a long
• Reserving all or part of the revenue from other     way to go.
  taxes and fees to pay for affordable housing. In       “I would say it’s pretty bad,” said Jo-Anne Ridao,
  2006, Honolulu voters passed a referendum           the housing commissioner for Hawaii’s Maui
  requiring the city to dedicate 1 percent of sales   County. “We know that there are a lot of families
  tax revenue to affordable housing.                  that are housing two or three generations in a house
• Rounding up state and federal grants and            because they can’t afford to buy a house.”
  other funds to pay for affordable housing. The         In Aspen, where the median sales price for a
  town of Mammoth Lakes has procured $14              home is $5.2 million, McCabe said local workers
  million in state and federal grants to help pay     seeking affordable housing “are all up against the
  for $47 million in development and loan             wall. I would believe that this year we’re not going
  programs that will provide for more than 250        to have the workers we need. I really believe it
  worker housing units.                               translates into service cutbacks somewhere.”



                                                                                   WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   47
               Local officials at Hilton Head, a barrier island     development, with 300 units earmarked for
            resort community in South Carolina, have been           affordable worker housing, in the Resort District.
            talking about scrapping their affordable housing        Disney and the chamber formed a political
            plan, which has produced 61 worker housing units.       committee called Save Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR)
            As often happens with affordable housing                that successfully circulated petitions putting a
            ordinances, buyers had to accept deed restrictions      referendum to overturn the proposed project on the
            limiting their ability to sell their homes. Due to      ballot next June. Not to be outdone, the Council
            protests from the residents, the town of Hilton         majority has instructed staff to draft a referendum
            Head has eased the deed restrictions and is             that would require voter approval before Disney can
            considering doing away with them altogether.            build another theme park in Anaheim.
               Compounding the problem of providing affordable          “They tried to make this a resort housing issue,
            housing to workers in resort areas is resistance by     but it’s really not a resort housing issue,” said
            developers, business owners and residents to the        SOAR Spokeswoman Annette McCluskey. She said
            solutions implemented by local government officials.    the condo project would be built on a 26-acre site
            A Canadian condominium developer filed suit in          occupied by two mobile home parks that were
            Hawaii to overturn Maui’s inclusionary housing          grandfathered in when the Resort District was
            ordinance after local officials denied its appeal of    created. “There would not be a net gain in
            affordable housing requirements on two proposed         affordable housing.”
            South Maui condo projects.                                  Honua’ula, a proposed 1,400-unit development
               In Anaheim, Calif., home of the Disneyland           with 700 affordable units for workers located on
            Resorts, the local chamber of commerce and Disney       Maui’s south shore, has run into vehement
            are at war with local officials and housing advocates   opposition from Save Makena, a local environmental
            over a zoning change allowing the construction of a     group. Save Makena has turned out dozens of
            large development, including affordable housing, in     protesters to fight the development at Maui County
            the Resort District adjacent to Disney and reserved     Council Land Use Committee meetings.
            for tourism-related businesses.                             In Vail, Colo., REALTORS® oppose a local
               Orange County, where Anaheim is located, has         affordable housing law that requires high-density,
            been identified by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION             mixed-use developers to set aside 20 percent of the
            OF REALTORS® as the third most expensive housing        units for worker housing, but requires real estate
            market in the country. Worker housing advocates say     offices to provide 2.5 bedrooms of affordable housing
            the Anaheim area needs 27,000 additional affordable     per 1,000 square feet of real estate office construction.
            housing units to provide housing for low-wage               “Right now it’s impossible to build new real
            workers at Disney and other places.                     estate offices in the town of Vail,” said Asher
               The city council set off a firestorm earlier this    Maslan, president of the Vail Board of REALTORS®.
            year when it voted 3-2 to allow a 1,500-unit            “The goal is to have 100 percent of Vail employees

         Resort communities have turned to many different
           options in their struggle to provide affordable
              housing for local and seasonal workers.




48   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
living within the town of Vail by 2014. It might be a                     costs $700 to $1,000 a square foot and has gone as
noble cause, but we believe it’s impossible to                            high as $3,200.
achieve because in lieu of creating affordable                               Whatever the future holds for these resorts, one
housing, you can also pay the town $369 per square                        thing is certain. Affordable housing must be a
foot” to buy land outside of town for affordable                          priority. The resorts are a beautiful place to work,
housing projects.                                                         but how do you afford to live there?
   Maslan said the penalty has little impact on                           John Van Gieson is a freelance writer based in Tallahassee,
developers because construction in Vail typically                         Fla. He owns and runs Van Gieson Media Relations, Inc.



                                          A PALETTE OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING
      Lukia Costello, a photographer in Buffalo,
  N.Y., is part of an exciting new program for
  artists: She lives and works in an old factory
  converted to live/work lofts for artists.
      Costello used to live in a cramped
  apartment in the suburbs where she was
  constantly banging into things when she was
  working on her photographs. Her move to
  Buffalo Artist Lofts was a dream come true.
      “I have more than enough space now,”
  Costello said. “It’s like a New York City loft
  apartment, 950 square feet, 14-foot ceilings,
  the front wall is all windows with a nice view. I
  have the space to work and the space to think.
  Wherever I look I can see my work on the walls,
  and it’s inspiring.”
      Costello, who works part-time teaching
  Microsoft Office to make ends meet while she            Buffalo Artists Lofts in Buffalo, New York. Photo provided
  pursues a career as an artist, pays $474 a              by Lukia Costello Photography—www.lukiacostello.com.
  month for her loft.
      Buffalo Artists Lofts was developed by Artspace Project, a Artspace projects is low-income housing credits. “We sell tax
  Minneapolis, Minn., nonprofit dedicated to renovating old credits to companies that use them to reduce their tax
  buildings to provide live/work spaces for artists. Artspace has burden,” he said.
  developed 20 projects around the country and has 16 others in             Other funding sources include foundations, historic
  various stages of development, said Roy Close, director of preservation tax breaks and credits, community development,
  resource development.                                                 local government and private fundraising in the community.
      The organization has developed work/live projects for artists         “It’s an established fact that these kinds of projects can
  in cities as large as Chicago and as small as Fergus Falls, really have a dramatic economic benefit in certain kinds of
  Minn., population 14,000. Artspace typically renovates old neighborhoods,” Close said.
  factories and warehouses near the city center. The Buffalo                The Tashiro-Kaplan Artists Lofts project, featuring 40,000
  building was constructed in 1911 as an electric car factory and square feet of live/work lofts, studios and businesses, was
  housed a printing company for many years.                             developed in a seedy area of Seattle.
      The Minneapolis City Council created Artspace in 1978 as              “When I started this project I knew we needed long-term
  a referral service for artists seeking affordable housing. It went affordable housing for artists and the creative community,”
  nonprofit a year later and decided in 1987 that its real mission said Cathryn Vandenbrink, Artspace regional director in
  was to develop affordable housing projects where artists could Seattle. “What I didn’t realize was a need there for affordable
  live and work. The organization works in partnership with local commercial space as well. It is a very tough neighborhood and
  agencies or organizations that seek its help.                         this project has brought a feeling of safety to residents of the
      “We get a lot of calls, generally from civic agencies, neighborhood that has spread on the surrounding streets.”
  redevelopment groups or economic development groups,”                     “It has just been unbelievable, the activity that has come
  Close said. “We send in a consulting team and recommend that from this little corner of the neighborhood that used to be
  the local organization commission a market survey to see if a empty and barren,” she said.
  sufficient number of artists are interested. Projects typically           Another benefit of the Artspace projects is that they create a
  take three to five years.”                                            community of artists who learn from each other. “I like the
      Projects can be expensive, running into the $15 million to        community of other artists,” Costello said. “I find it very inspiring.”
  $25 million range. Close said the first source of funding for




                                                                                                                  WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND    49
                                    A Historic




50   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
Approach
           Tax credits create
           affordable housing



                   By Heidi Johnson-Wright


           I
               n the never-ending search to preserve and
               create more affordable housing, developers
               and nonprofits are finding ways to use more
           than the traditional Low-Income Housing Tax
           Credits (LIHTC) to get deals done.
              Since 1986, the federal LIHTC program has
           provided financing opportunities for developers
           to build units for low-income renters.
              In return for building affordable housing,
           investors receive a credit against their federal
           income tax liability. The program leverages
           roughly $6 billion in annual investments that
           produce more than 125,000 affordable
           apartments each year.
              The federal government allocates LIHTC to
           each state based on population, with the current
           allocation at approximately $2 per person. Each
           state’s housing finance agency sets priorities,
           then holds an annual competitive process to
           award the credits to the projects that best meet
           the priorities.
              Investors use the tax credits to reduce federal
           tax liability. They often receive additional
           benefits of meeting local regulatory requirements
           and community development goals.




                            WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND        51
               Low-income tax credits typically cover about            were only about 40 percent to 50 percent occupied
            half of an affordable rental building’s total              and many of the tenants were not paying rent,”
            financing. The other half usually comes from city          Friedman said. “The owner of the 115-unit building
            and county portions of U.S. Department of Housing          had renovated the property in 1995, but was facing
            and Urban Development HOME or Community                    increasing pressure from the city of St. Louis, the
            Development Block Grant money, plus state or               police department and community leaders to make
            local bond money and housing trust funds.                  further changes.”
               With construction costs and land prices soaring,           The building had not fulfilled its affordable
            developers of affordable rental housing are                housing tax credit requirement of 15 years as low-
            constantly pressed to make the numbers work.               income housing before being allowed to charge
               In St. Louis, the Friedman Group, Ltd. and              market rate. If affordable rates had not continued,
            Dublin Capital, lobbied policymakers, layered              the owner would have faced procedures to
            financing and launched an uphill yet successful            recapture the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits he
            battle to clean up and preserve a rapidly                  had used to finance the project.
            deteriorating 115-unit affordable rental building.            The question for the owner was how to proceed in
               Eric Friedman, president of the Friedman Group          solving the problem. At that point, Friedman Group,
            and the St. Louis Association of REALTORS®                 Ltd. and Dublin Capital were asked to step in and
            Commercial Division REALTOR® of the Year,                  provide expertise and solutions. The two firms and
            created a case study on the salvation of the Winston       owner decided to search for a buyer/developer who
            Churchill Apartments.                                      would be able to rehab the building and continue
               “An ongoing problem for the property was crime,         providing affordable housing.
            which amounted to more than 300 police calls each             Friedman, who has experience in affordable
            year. In addition to safety problems, the apartments       housing, historic renovation and traditional
                                                                       development, teamed with Dublin Capital to secure:
                                                                       housing assistance credits through a nonprofit
     Low-income tax credits                                            corporation, tax exempt bonds, city lien forgiveness,
                                                                       plus federal and state LIHTC. The project was
     typically cover about half                                        structured to also benefit from federal historic tax
     of an affordable rental                                           credits plus state of Missouri historic tax credits.
                                                                          Friedman and Dublin contracted for a market
     building’s total financing.                                       study and appraisal and assembled a development
                                                                       team including a general contractor, architect and
                                                                                              local legal counsel. Friedman
                                                    Winston Churchill in St. Louis, Missouri. and Dublin also assembled a
                                                    Photo provided by Lisa Mandel.            group to provide the debt and
                                                                                              equity needed to purchase the
                                                                                              property plus additional land
                                                                                              for adequate parking.
                                                                                                 “Since the Winston Churchill
                                                                                              House had Section 8 tenants,
                                                                                              the development chose to find
                                                                                              alternative housing for the
                                                                                              residents during the gut rehab
                                                                                              and pay the difference in rent.
                                                                                              Friedman Group, working with
                                                                                              a local project manager, assisted
                                                                                              in relocating the qualified
                                                                                              tenants,” explained Friedman,
                                                                                              who also maintained a strong
                                                                                              community relations campaign
                                                                                              with the city alderman and
                                                                                              mayor’s office, a Congressman’s
                                                                                              office, the police department,
                                                                                              community religious groups
                                                                                              and neighborhood associations.




52   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
   In less than two years, the Friedman and Dublin
team worked its magic and a new developer—
Eagle Point, a Maine firm with strong ties to St.
Louis—was in place. The $12 million dollar
rehabilitation construction is well under way with
completion expected by year end and residents
moving back into an exquisitely-restored historic
building by early 2008.
   Encouraged by the National Trust for Historic
Preservation, some areas are using historic tax
credits as a way of preserving affordable housing.
   Mercy Housing in Savannah received the Trust’s
prestigious National Preservation Honor Award for
creating 70 units of affordable housing in buildings
that were historic, but rapidly deteriorating.
   According to the trust, Heritage Corner was
originally constructed as housing for low-income
workers in the early 1900s in what is now known as
Savannah’s Cuyler-Brownsville Historic District—
one of the city’s oldest and poorest neighborhoods.
Before Mercy Housing’s purchase and restoration,
Heritage Corner families struggled with blight
and overcrowding.                                         Galen Terrace in Washington, D.C.
   “Heritage Row, a continuous block of buildings
constructed in 1912, was also in need of
considerable rehabilitation to make them
habitable,” a Trust press release states. “Where
                                                          Areas are using
apartments once were unheated and raw sewage              historic tax credits as
often ran through courtyards, residents now enjoy
comfortable homes with modern conveniences,               a way of preserving
playgrounds, a community garden—and even a
new branch library.”                                      affordable housing.
   Using historic tax credits, Denver-based Mercy
Housing retained original materials and features           The Trust says the legislation would:
wherever possible and added new materials that             • Lessen the rule that lowers tax benefits dollar-
blend with the area’s character.                             for-dollar according to the amount of credit
   The National Trust for Historic Preservation—             taken when using the historic rehab credit.
working with leading preservation organizations,           • Increase the rehab credit rate to 40 percent for
developers, the financing community and tax credit           smaller projects in which the qualified
users—has crafted the Community Restoration and              rehabilitation expenditures do not exceed
Revitalization Act.                                          $2 million. This would target the incentive to
   The legislation, with sponsorship in the U.S.             “main street”-type developments in which
House and Senate, “is a package of amendments                rehab credit costs are currently prohibitive.
that would further the mission of the Historic             • Permit the 10 percent credit to be claimed
Rehabilitation Tax Credit by spurring greater                with respect to residential rental property. It
investment in smaller commercial projects and Main           is currently prohibited for projects that
Street-type properties in older neighborhoods—               include dwellings.
particularly where there is a critical need for housing    • Change the definition of “older building” from
and neighborhood reinvestment,” according to a               “built before 1936” to any property “50 years
briefing released by the Trust.                              old or older.”
   The idea is to make it easier to combine the rehab      • Ease the rules governing nonprofit deals so
credit with the traditional Low-Income Housing Tax           that more community-oriented projects may
Credit to create projects that save historic structures      move forward.
while creating affordable rental units.                    • Boost, by 130 percent, the qualified rehabil-
                                                             itation expenditures on which the rehab credit




                                                                                              WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   53
                                                                               To further assist with gap financing, Ohio
                                                                            created a housing trust fund. To generate
                                                                            dollars for the trust fund, the state doubled
                                                                            the fee people pay for recording all official
                                                                            documents with the County Recorders.
                                                                               Conrad Egan, president and CEO of the
                                                                            National Housing Conference (NHC),
                                                                     praised the federal tax credit program administered
                                                                     by states for its “overall efficiency, economy of
                                                                     delivery and longtime sustainability.”
                                                                        But he said affordable housing is too much of a
                                                                     “lasagna deal,” with several layers of financing
             Hazel Hill residents in Fredericksburg, Virginia        required in addition to tax credits to make an
                                                                     affordable rental project’s numbers work.
                 can be claimed for buildings located in certain        Egan said it would be easier for affordable
                 disinvested neighborhoods, difficult to develop     rentals to be created if all the layers of funding
                 areas and census tracts with high poverty rates.    were done in one cycle, so developers would not be
               • Remove the recapture clause—requiring the           carrying land costs and hamstringed from breaking
                 payback of tax credits upon conversion of a tax     ground until several different agencies approve
                 credit property into a condo development—to         their projects.
                 broaden the tax credit’s use to condominium            “Nothing drives developers crazy like a lack of
                 developments and in so doing, provide new           predictability,” he said.
                 support for the revitalization of urban                Egan also promotes a holistic approach to
                 neighborhoods nationwide.                           affordable housing, such as those detailed in
               While many are trying to make historic tax            “Increasing the Availability of Affordable Homes—
            credits more available for affordable housing            A Handbook of High-Impact State and Local
            preservation, the state of Ohio is among the leaders     Solutions,” prepared by the Center for Housing
            in setting aside conventional Low-Income Housing         Policy (CHP).
            Tax Credits for the restoration and preservation of         The publication details how Fairfax County, Va.,
            existing units.                                          recently approved a plan to rezone an area near a
               Ohio is one of eight states that reserves 25          mass transit stop to increase density substantially
            percent or more of its LIHTC for preservation. To
            make sure preservation really works on older
            properties, the state requires extensive
                                                                     “We set aside a
            rehabilitation work to bring the existing up to
            modern code, to boost energy efficiency and to
                                                                     quarter of our tax
            upgrade to minimum accessibility standards of the
            Americans with Disabilities Act.
                                                                     credit allocation for
               “We are making a number of efforts to preserve        preservation of existing
            affordable housing,” said Kevin Clark, the Housing
            Credit Allocation manager for the Ohio Housing           affordable housing.”
            Finance Agency. “We set aside a quarter of our tax
            credit allocation for preservation of existing            Heritage Corner development in Savannah, Georgia
            affordable housing—most for preserving a Section 8
            building, or properties financed by HUD, some
            created with rural development funds and also older
            tax credit properties, deals that had to be affordable
            for 15 years but now could go market rate.”
               The state of Ohio also now requires projects that
            receive tax credits—family, senior, disabled and
            permanent supportive housing for the homeless—
            to remain affordable for 30 years. The demand for
            low-income housing remains so high that the state
            is still only capable of funding about one out of
            every four applications each year.




54   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
on land formerly occupied by an older,
low-density subdivision of 65 homes
plus five acres previously used for
surface parking.
   The new MetroWest development
will have about 2,250 condominiums,
apartments and town houses; up to
300,000 square feet of office space; and,
up to 190,000 square feet of retail space.
   “During negotiations over the
proposed MetroWest development,
Fairfax County secured a promise from
Pulte Homes, the developer, that
approximately 5 percent of the homes
would be affordable—almost double
the number required under current
Fairfax     County      provisions     for
developments of this density,” the CHP
handbook explains.
   NHC’s Egan said higher-density
zoning with boosted Floor Area Ratios
(FAR) for development can create room
for affordable housing on even a pricey
                                              Monte Cristo Hotel in Everett, Washington
piece of land, quipping “God isn’t making
any more land, but he is using FAR.”
   In the Pacific Northwest, Bob Peterson—
Manager of the Tax Credit Division of Washington          The rehabilitated hotel has
State      Housing     Finance       Commission—is
particularly proud of the historic Monte Cristo           a mix of studios and one-
Hotel in Everett, Wash.
   The hotel, which once set vacant and neglected         and two-bedroom units.
for more than two decades, was converted to
affordable housing 15 years ago and is still going           • Encourage more Green Building practices.
strong. One hundred percent of its 68 units are              • Create some form of inclusionary zoning that
rented to people earning no more than 60 percent                generates housing units.
of the Area Gross Adjusted Income, the standard              • Streamline zoning, permitting and other
LIHTC requirement.                                              development processes to control spiraling costs.
   The rehabilitated hotel has a mix of studios and          • Ask For-Profit and Nonprofit to work together
one- and two-bedroom units. Because Washington                  more.
requires tax credit recipients to maintain                   • Push for better results from programs and
affordability for 40 years, the Monte Cristo’s units            services that work with special needs housing
will be available to low-income renters for at least            such as those serving disabled, homeless, farm
another quarter century.                                        worker and offender re-entry populations.
   Even with success stories such as the Monte               • Add another layer of subsidy to the Tax Credit
Cristo, Peterson still said the supply of affordable            program to develop Workforce Housing.
housing is not keeping pace with the demand. To              “Housing needs differ not only from state-to-
increase opportunities and make low-income state but also within counties,” Peterson said.
housing more efficient and in-line with Smart “More flexibility should be given to local
Growth principles, he would:                              communities to ‘fill’ in their housing gaps using
   • Make all layers of housing subsidies work these current resources. It would be nice to have
     seamlessly together.                                 incentive-based programs vs. legislating the
   • Encourage mixed-income developments.                 development of affordable housing.”
   • Encourage more urban density and land Heidi Johnson-Wright frequently writes about
     efficiency.                                          Smart Growth and sustainable communities. She
   • Build more affordable housing around public and her husband live in a restored historic home in
     transit.                                             the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact her at:
                                                          hjohnsonwright@yahoo.com.



                                                                                        WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   55
                          Housing
           Opportunity
     Compiled by Mike Lehrman, NAR Housing Opportunity Program
                                                                         in the states



           CALIFORNIA                                      COLORADO                          FLORIDA




      The Rosslyn Hotel in downtown Los          Cityview, an organization          The Westshore Community Develop-
      Angeles has been purchased by two          dedicated to financing and         ment Corporation is developing 57
      area development firms, Buxbaum            developing affordable housing      affordable town homes on 3.7 acres
      Group and the Amerland Group. The          projects, has made a $4 million    of land in Tampa, granted by
      historic hotel will be converted into an   donation to the Affordable         Hillsborough County. The cor-
      affordable      workforce      housing     Housing Fund of the city of        poration is utilizing a community
      development over the next two years.       Boulder. The donation will be      land trust model to keep the homes
      The structure was acquired for $24.5       used to help fund the Peloton,     affordable. Generally, with a
      million and the conversion costs           a $150 million residential         community land trust model, a
      estimate is $20 million. The               development addressing the         nonprofit group retains ownership of
      partnership, bolstered by $28.5 million    growing affordable housing         the land under the homes and deed
      in tax-exempt bonds issued by the          needs of the city of Boulder.      restrictions place limits on the resale
      California Statewide Communities           The contribution will help         price. This keeps the homes more
      Development Authority, plans to make       finance 38 units in the Peloton,   affordable. At a price tag of only
      85 percent of the 300 units in the         adding to Boulder’s pool of        $100,000, the homes in the
      planned development affordable to          affordable housing. These          Westshore development are just that,
      households earning between 35              units will sell for as little as   especially considering that the
      percent and 60 percent of the Los          $88,000, while the market rate     average home price in Tampa in
      Angeles area’s median income.              units in the development are       2006 was $250,000.
      According to Jeremy Turner, director of    priced from $300,000 to
      construction management for the            $900,000. The $4-million
      Amerland group, this ratio is              contribution to Boulder’s
      “extremely rare.” Most affordable          Affordable Housing Fund
      housing developments in this area          represents the largest single
      boast 20 percent of the units as           contribution in the history of
      affordable and the remaining 80            the fund.
      percent are sold at market rate. The
      Rosslyn Hotel conversion will be
      completed by late 2009.

56   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
         KANSAS                                 MARYLAND                             NEW YORK




The Manhattan Association of            The Maryland Association of          Financed in part by contributions
REALTORS® and the Junction City         REALTORS® is partnering with         by Brad Pitt made to the nonprofit
Board of REALTORS® have                 the Baltimore Homeownership          Global Green, developers at Full
partnered to offer free housing         Preservation Coalition and Prince    Spectrum have created the
counseling services to soldiers         Georges County Coalition for         Kalahari, a state-of-the-art mixed
stationed at Fort Riley in              Homeownership preservation to        income green condominium
Manhattan. Since 2006, Army             strengthen home ownership and        development. The Kalahari is
officers stationed at Fort Riley have   promote neighborhood stability to    located on 116th St. in Harlem and
been responsible for training           prevent foreclosures in Maryland.    offers affordable condominium
soldiers who will work with and         As part of the partnership, the      units to families earning as little as
educate local Iraqi and Afghani         Maryland       Association      of   $56,000. The Kalahari boasts
security forces. The program            REALTORS® will provide joint         advanced features in green
started when the Fort Riley housing     training sessions for REALTORS®      building, including solar panels
services department approached          and housing counselors to            and a rooftop garden. Nearly half
the     two     local    REALTOR®       educate them about helping           of the 249 condominiums in the
associations      and      requested    consumers      avoid    predatory    development are designated for
homebuying        assistance      and   lending and prevent foreclosures.    affordable housing. Full Spectrum
education for the men and women         In addition, the Maryland            has initiated similar projects in
stationed at Fort Riley. As a result,   Association of REALTORS® has         New Orleans and Jackson, Miss.
the boards partnered to create a        agreed to sponsor scholarships for
free homebuying information             housing counselors in the
packet designed specifically for the    Baltimore area to complete
soldiers, as well as one-on-one         NeighborWorks® training on
consultation at no charge.              foreclosure prevention.




                                                                                   WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND       57
          HousingOpportunity
                                                                    in the states (continued)




              OHIO                                     OREGON                                    PENNSYLVANIA




      On October 7, 2007, the Columbus         The       Portland      Metropolitan     The city of Allentown recently
      Board of REALTORS® hosted and            Association of REALTORS® has             completed the construction of
      sponsored the Super Sunday               launched an affordable housing           Overlook Park, an $87 million
      Affordable Housing Open House.           educational campaign for its             public housing development
      This annual event showcases              members along with a brand new           with 269 affordable rental units
      affordable priced homes ($125,000        consumer Web site designed to assist     and    53    affordable    home
      and under) available in Central          prospective     homebuyers      attain   ownership units. Overlook Park
      Ohio and gives consumers the             housing downpayment assistance           has been a welcome addition to
      opportunity     to    receive    free    and affordable financing options. The    the Allentown community, as
      consultation services with real          educational campaign will certify        hundreds of residents were
      estate professionals. Along with         REALTORS® to work specifically in        displaced from their homes
      advertising the event in local media,    the affordable housing market and        when a dilapidated public
      the board supplies gifts and prizes to   connect them directly to prospective     housing     development     was
      consumers that participate in the        homeowners through the consumer          recently demolished. Overlook
      Open House fair.                         Web site. The certification program,     Park has more than 400 families
                                               entitled Homeownership Oppor-            on a wait list to move into the
                                               tunities Certification, will teach       units, as the newly completed
                                               REALTORS® about the eligibility          development boasts attractive
                                               standards for financial products that    designs and affordable prices.
                                               may help first timer homebuyers,
                                               information on state and local
                                               downpayment assistance programs
                                               and local consumer home ownership
                                               and credit counseling resources
                                               available to consumers at no cost. The
                                               consumer Web site, www.hownw.com,
                                               will launch during home ownership
                                               month, June 2008.




58   ON COMMON GROUND WINTER 2008
         SOUTH DAKOTA                        TEXAS                               WISCONSIN




The nonprofit Evangelical           The Texas State Affordable            The Wisconsin REALTORS®
Lutheran Good Samaritan             Housing       Corporation       has   Association helped organize
Society recently broke ground       announced a new financing             and sponsor a coalition of
on the new $5.2 million             product available to individuals      housing stakeholders for a
Creekside Apartments complex        and families that earn less than 80   workforce housing symposium
in Sioux Falls. The complex,        percent of area median family         on September 13, 2007 in
designed to provide affordable      income. The Home Sweet Texas          Madison. The symposium
one-bedroom apartments to area      Loan Program couples low fixed-       highlighted the ways public
seniors who meet federal            rate    mortgage     rates     with   and private organizations can
income requirements, will be        downpayment assistance grants.        benefit from offering employer
completed in the fall of 2008.      Eligible participants in the          assisted housing benefits to
The development, funded by a        program can obtain a 30-year,         local employees. As a result of
grant from the Department of        fixed-rate mortgage at rates as       the program, the Wisconsin
Housing and Urban Devel-            low as 6.15 percent and obtain up     Association of REALTORS®
opment, will meet a serious         to 5 percent of the purchase price    has agreed to sponsor regional
need in the Sioux Falls area.       of the home for downpayment and       Home From Work™ training
Information taken from the U.S.     closing costs. More information       courses for REALTORS®
census     shows      that    the   can be found at www.tsahc.org.        throughout the state of
population of elderly individuals                                         Wisconsin to help promote
in the Sioux Falls area increased                                         employer assisted housing.
by 14 percent during the 1990s.
Further increases are expected
in the upcoming 2010 census.




                                                                                  WINTER 2008 ON COMMON GROUND   59

				
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