Matt Landau
  • Founder, VRMB

A "proposed" "solution" to the "affordable housing" "problem"

Lots of air quotes in the title of this thread -- because the definitions of all these things are blurry.

Have you heard about my home state of Florida's "Live Local Act," which aims to help combat the lack of affordable housing by incentivizing new construction through tax breaks?

The Live Local Act allows developers to get around height and density restrictions like those in historic areas.

Such as my neighborhood of South Beach, where the owner of historic The Clevelander (hotel) is planning to break architectural preservation laws and erect a tall residential building. You can read the whole story here.

Lack of affordable housing has led to a persistant labor shortage in the local hospitality industry.

Yet detractors of the development say it's merely a money grab.

Is this type of thing being done in other STR hotspots?

How does your community adapt to change without losing its soul?

How do you create new opportunities for more people?

What are the elements that make your neighborhood healthy?
Our County (Placer County North Lake Tahoe) has some interesting programs that they have started or partnered with. Some of the concepts are great but the execution not so awesome. Our area is starting a group called the Housing Hub which is a 501C6 (I think) non profit to address and help with all aspects of affordable housing from assisting developers to build properties, making the process of adding an ADU more streamlined to opening up long term rentals in our current housing stock. I think this group has a lot of promise and I am excited to join their Board (that is what happens when you ask a lot of questions at Board meetings).

Currently we have a program where a homeowner will be given a one off grant of $7000/person for up to 4 people as long as they work locally (for families, only one person needs to work locally) if they open up their property for a long term rental. It is a great program but has a few bugs in it; rentals need to be under $3500 no matter what size, that really should be a maximum amount per bedroom. The application for the grant happens after your tenants are in house and the tenants have to fill in certain forms. This often creates a new negotiation with tenants when they think they should be entitled to some of the funds.
We also have a program where the County will give you up to 16% of the value of a home as a deposit (maximum $160,000) with the caveat the the home can only be sold to another person working locally for the next 50 YEARS and whoever buys the property has to sign on for another 50 years. Good concept but the rolling 50 years in my opinion is too long as they are buying the properties at full price in our market which is expensive and it will dramatically affect their long term capital growth and make it a difficult sell.

The Housing Hub Group already has some great new concepts they are debating so I am looking forward to see what they come up with. Also I am closely following what other areas are doing so I am really interested in this thread.
We recently attened a local event to discuss this issue, and one of the solutions they are working on was interesting to me. It was a new idea to me, maybe it has been done somewhere else. Most of the solutions are directed toward the lower income folks. This plan was to address folks who could be in the position to buy but don't have a down payment. They have all the other aspects of qualifying for loans. This group builds homes for folks (similiar to habitat for humanity) they can buy it with little money down. They can't sell it right away and when they do they only get a portion of it not the whole thing. I don't remember all of the details will have to find the builder. But in a nut shell this would pull a lot of folks out of apartments that would typically buy, but are stuck due to high housing costs and down payments. This would free up more space for lower income individuals who are looking to rent. It was interesting to do something with middle class in helping the housing crisis. Not sure if it will work but they are building in Bend OR now.
It's important to address the affordable housing issue with practical solutions, and that may look like reevaluating our zoning codes to allow for more dense builds. While many individuals express a desire to address the affordable housing crisis without solely blaming STRs, they may also resist changes such as the construction of multiunit properties or the allowance of ADUs in their neighborhoods. #NIMBY works both ways with most issues.

It's essential to remember that denser housing doesn't necessarily mean sacrificing the charm or character of our communities; it means accommodating more people and providing affordable options. By embracing these changes thoughtfully, we can make significant strides in solving the affordable housing crisis without unfairly targeting any single industry. It's a collaborative effort to ensure everyone has access to housing they can afford.

Recommendations for a collaborative approach to address these challenges:

Community Engagement: Encourage open and inclusive discussions within the community. Give residents and property owners opportunities to voice their opinions and concerns. Local town hall meetings, surveys, and public forums can be effective platforms for engagement.

Data Transparency: Provide access to data and research that support various perspectives. Transparency in sharing information helps build trust and allows for informed decision-making.

Local Government Involvement: Local government plays a significant role in shaping neighborhood policies. Elected officials should actively engage with all stakeholders, consider their input, and make decisions that benefit the entire community.

Balance of Interests: Recognize that neighborhoods are diverse, and different residents may have varying priorities. Finding a balance that accommodates different interests is key to effective neighborhood management.

Respect for Property Rights: Property owners have a vested interest in their homes and neighborhoods. Respecting their property rights while addressing broader community concerns is essential.

Long-Term Vision: Develop a shared long-term vision for the neighborhood that considers factors like housing affordability, economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and quality of life.

Community Benefits: Explore strategies to ensure that any changes or regulations benefit the entire community rather than a specific group. Affordable housing initiatives, green spaces, and community programs can be part of the solution.

Education and Awareness: Promote education and awareness campaigns to help residents understand the potential impacts of different policies on the neighborhood's character and quality of life.

Advocacy Groups: Support the presence of advocacy groups representing various interests in the community. These groups can serve as voices for their constituents and contribute to informed decision-making. If you don't have a STR alliance in your community, start one!

Collaboration Over Confrontation: Encourage a collaborative mindset rather than confrontational approaches. Neighborhoods are more likely to thrive when residents and property owners work together to find common ground.

By embracing these changes with intention, we can make some significant strides in solving the affordable housing crisis without unfairly targeting any single industry. It's a collaborative effort to ensure everyone has access to housing they can afford while maintaining the unique fabric of our neighborhoods.

PS. I hear people often reference the "character of a neighborhood," -- this is a subjective concept that evolves over time in response to changes in demographics, culture, and urban development. While opinions may vary, it's important for communities to engage in open and inclusive discussions to ensure that the character reflects the values and aspirations of its diverse population. Ultimately, the character of a neighborhood is a shared and evolving identity.

PPS. I found this podcast episode fascinating and insightful on the topic:
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