Monthly Archives: March 2012

40 Days, $1500 to Go!

Over $3,000 Raised... $1,500 to Go - THANK YOU!

Only forty days until I head to North Carolina to begin a cross-country journey to raise awareness about affordable housing.  And I need your help to reach my fundraising goal of $4,500.  Over fifty generous people have helped raise about $3,000 so far.

Maybe you’ve been meaning to contribute but haven’t yet… now is the time!

Visit my Contribute page to learn more.  THANK YOU!

Planning for Affordability: Inclusionary Zoning

photo credit: Hisham N. Ashkouri for TAC

Zoning is the strongest tool available to planners.  Drawing its legal foundations from the police power of government, zoning lets localities set spatial rules about land use.  This has many advantages, including the separation of incompatible uses (i.e. elementary schools and chemical plants – an extreme example).

So, you enact a nice local zoning code.  Houses here, industry here, mixed uses there.  The Market hums along, steering everything to their highest and best uses (as far as your zoning allows).  The problem?  In market terms of “highest and best use,” affordable housing development rarely makes the cut. Continue reading

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BLS: Consumers Spending Less on Housing

photo credit: BLS (USDL-11-139)

A couple posts back, I showed how housing affordability has been challenged during the last decade, using the places along the NC2SD Bike & Build route as subjects.  Across many communities, the costs of housing have increased more rapidly than household incomes, squeezing out potential homeowners.

We can trace lines to some of the more obvious effects, like decreased homeownership and increased renting.  But what about a more intermediate figure (versus own/rent), such as consumer spending on housing? Continue reading

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Owner Costs Rise, Incomes Don’t Keep Up

NC2SD route stops, organized by a ratio of affordability: Change in Median Selected Monthly Owner Costs (SMOC) / Change in Median Owner Income. The heavy black line indicates a ratio of 1.0, while the purple dashed lines show the NC2SD and national averages. Places with a green background experienced greater increases in income than owner costs; the red background indicates the converse.

[Part of a series on the 2012 NC2SD Bike & Build route]

It goes without saying that most prices increase over time, and real estate is a particular investment where you may even hope that’s the case.  However, higher real estate prices could also mean higher owner costs, ranging from larger monthly mortgage payments to additional repairs or maintenance.  As long as incomes rise along with home values, affordability is not necessarily hindered.   Continue reading

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Building a University Community (Literally)

For today’s Road Ahead post, I wanted to write about something inspirational.  I didn’t have to look any further than the Habitat for Humanity chapter in Orange County, NC – one of the very first stops along the NC2SD Route.  An outstanding effort by the UNC community, Build a Block, raised ten Habitat homes for UNC employees in one year.  I’m curious what my fellow Hoos make of this?  Could UVA try something similar?

This short video features two families who talk about their pursuit of homeownership.  Great stuff!

What will you build? from Katherine Vance on Vimeo.

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