Affordable Housing Implementation Recommendations



Work Session on Recommended Affordable Housing Implementation Strategies



Tucker, Roxanne White, Davis, Ron White





May 4, 2005


ACTION:                              INFORMATION:    X



  ACTION:                           INFORMATION:    










After the adoption (February 2004) of an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to include an Affordable Housing Policy, an Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee was formed to make recommendations for implementing the policy. The Advisory Committee completed its initial task of identifying priority strategies and recommendations (see attachment) and presenting a report to the Board in December 2004.  The report was also presented on behalf of the Albemarle County Housing Committee.  A number of recommendations, which included increasing data collection and reporting, revising homebuyer counseling programs, and creating a homebuyer assistance program, were considered feasible, as they involved mostly administrative actions using current available resources.   Other recommendations required more inter-departmental staff work to formulate actions for implementation.  The Board also asked that a work session be scheduled to present these recommendations and provide more time for discussion of affordable housing issues.




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




Staff from the Community Development, County Attorney, County Executive, and Housing offices began working on the actions for the remaining identified priority strategies in January 2005.  The outcome of this work is detailed in the attachment.  In general the focus was on revising current density bonus provisions in the zoning ordinance and providing guidance in the calculation of affordable housing proffers or other comparable contributions toward affordable housing.  In addition, staff discussed the importance of creating a housing trust fund that could provide assistance directly to homebuyers, as well as funding for partnerships with developers that provide affordable housing.  A housing trust fund would include direct contributions from the County and cash proffers from developers and be used to leverage other public and private funds.


One priority area identified by the Advisory Committee and previously discussed by the Board pertained to streamlining and providing incentives in the development review process when affordable housing is included in the proposal.  This priority area was assigned to Community Development, since they were already in the process of completing an in depth review of the development process for the Board. This review is being presented to the Board under separate cover at the May 4th  Board meeting.


The Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee and the Housing Committee met jointly on April 20 to review staff recommendations and provide input,   all of which have been incorporated into the final recommendations.  The consensus  from the joint meeting was that this is a good first step in trying to increase affordable housing options, albeit one that should be flexible enough for future revisions as the market changes and/or when actions are determined to be unworkable.  In addition, they noted that the recommendations do set clear rules/expectations that will assist the industry, as well as staff.  Specific comments by the Committees that were deemed necessary to support the recommendations are:



·         While there is support for revising the density bonus provisions, staff needs to recognize that there are many changes required in the zoning ordinance to make the proposed density bonus workable in many situations.  Although a comprehensive review of the current zoning ordinance will soon be undertaken for the Neighborhood Model, a proposed density bonus amendment could move forward immediately and be retained during the overall revision to the zoning ordinance.

·         Although staff made no immediate recommendations for the elimination of barriers in the development review process pending a report from Mark Graham, the Committees’ members believe that this is an important aspect that must be addressed.  No specific recommendations were presented by members, but they have requested to be kept informed for future discussion of this issue.

·         The question was raised concerning the rationale for basing the number/percentage of affordable units only on development size, not on the additional number of units proposed as the result of a rezoning action.  Should rezoning for form and not density have the same affordable housing requirements as those rezoning for density?  Staff has revised its initial recommendations as a result of this concern.

·         While the proposed cash proffer amount was generally accepted, some members felt that this will add cost to units developed in growth areas, but will not affect those built in rural areas.  The County should work to develop a comprehensive cash proffer system, which includes affordable housing for all residential rezonings.   The cash proffer for affordable housing should include a periodic review for updating the cash value of the proffer based on affordability and market conditions.

·         The County must provide adequate funding to a housing trust fund to meet future demands for affordable housing.  This funding is important in developing partnerships and leveraging other resources.




Staff, the Albemarle County Housing Committee, and the Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee recommends that the Board consider the attached recommendations and provide direction to initiate the required actions to amend the zoning ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan.


View Attachment 1

Return to regular agenda