COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Report on Implementation Strategies

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Bob Tucker, Roxanne White, Ron White

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

December 1, 2004

 

ACTION:    X                    INFORMATION:

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:                         INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:      Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

On February 4, 2004 the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors adopted an amendment to the County’s Comprehensive Plan to promote the development of affordable housing for all residential projects applying for rezonings and/or special use permits.  The amendment defined affordable housing and identified five strategies to consider in implementing affordable housing initiatives.  During discussions, the Board asked staff to convene a group to include members from the real estate sales, finance, and development communities.  This group, the Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee, was convened at the request of the Albemarle County Housing Committee.  Two members of the Housing Committee served on the 12-member Advisory Committee.  The Advisory Committee met six times from May until August to discuss barriers to affordable housing and recommend actions to address these barriers, identifying some actions as priorities for immediate implementation.  The Advisory Committee and Housing Committee met jointly on November 10 to review the Advisory Committee’s draft report and then decided to present the final report to the Board of Supervisors.

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 3.2:  Promote a variety of safe, sanitary and affordable housing types.

 

DISCUSSION:

Affordable housing has become a major focus for jurisdictions in many areas of the country, particularly areas that are desirable places to live.  Albemarle County is not alone in its desire to promote affordable housing for those who live and work in the County.  Unfortunately the rapid appreciation of house values and rising costs of land, development costs, and building costs for new houses is working counter to the County’s expressed goal of promoting affordable housing.  The charge given to the Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee was to discuss barriers to affordable housing and make recommendations on things the County could do to work towards this goal.  The strategies were:  (1) implementing necessary regulatory and administrative functions in the development review process; (2) setting a target form including affordable housing as part of developments; (3) creating mechanisms for ensuring long-term affordability; (4) improving existing partnerships and creating new alliances; and (5) seeking additional funding.  Some key points of the discussion were costs must be shared – not shifted to builders/developers, the County should commit to increased funding for housing, the process for development review applications should be predictable, but also allow some flexibility for plans that may not meet all criteria, and prequalified buyers must be ready when units are built.  While there was consensus on these and other points, there were also a number of issues that relate more to policy than implementation.  These include what priority is to be given to affordable housing versus other components of the development, are rezonings for form rather than density expected to meet the affordable housing goals, and what are options for developers/builders to contribute to affordable housing initiatives.  In addition, issues related to the County’s approval process and how that can be made more predictable and expedited require more study and may require some guidance on policy and priorities from the Board.  The report recommends that additional work is needed to further develop these actions and any underlying policy decisions.  In addition, the report recommends several immediate actions to implement including developing a formal process for discussing affordable housing with developers early in the application process, developing a homebuyer assistance program, applying for low-interest rate mortgage funds from VHDA, revamping the County’s homebuyer counseling initiatives, developing marketing materials for available resources, and seeking approval to consolidate all housing-derived resources into a housing trust fund. 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends acceptance by the Board of the attached report from the Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee and support of the recommendations included in the report.  Staff also recommends that members of the Advisory Committee serve with one or more small groups to address the remaining issues and that the Advisory Committee reconvene to review further recommendations.  The Chief of Housing and key personnel in Community Development will be responsible for ensuring that remaining issues be addressed in a timely manner with a final report projected by June 2005 to the Housing Committee and, subsequently, to the Board of Supervisors.

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – PowerPoint Presentation

B – Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee Report

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