With inclusionary zoning due to be buried with few mourners next January, the South Central Realtors Association is rushing to fill the void with a purely market-based approach. The proposal supports affordable housing using existing programs and marketplace solutions. In other words, the stuff that actually works.
Phil Salkin of the Realtors Assn. is presenting the proposal to the Housing Committee today (07-02-2008).
"No one is introducing it, in the sense of an ordinance," Salkin tells me. "We are trying to gauge the interest."
Phil provided me with these statistics on what the market has done for affordable housing in Madison. Salkin says:
In 2006, the housing marker leveled and the shift began from a seller's to a buyer's market. In 2003, when the initial discussions were on-going over inclusionary zoning, there were approximately 450 condos/single family detached homes available on the MLS under $200,000. In May 2008 the numbers the total almost tripled to 1,173.
Phil notes that the least effective way to provide affordable housing is to rely on new housing. That's the most expensive kind. But that is what Brenda Konkel's I.Z. did. And it resulted in maybe 41 sales in its 4½ years.
The Realtors' proposal is not very sexy. It involves no magic government wand "creating" affordable housing. But it gently coaxes the market while helping lower-income, first-time buyers find that affordable housing.
Here is a synopsis of the Realtors' proposal:
- Request all relevant departments to submit summaries of their policies regarding housing issues. Coordinate department policies to insure that, when possible, they are not contradictory in their impact on housing.
- Request a housing statement for new ordinances and amendments. While the City may have legitimate reasons to create or alter ordinances that might increase the cost of housing, it should at least be explicitly aware of the implications of such actions.
- Create an informal Affordable Housing Council. Discussions with individuals in government (city, county, WHEDA, etc.) and various sectors within the housing industry suggest that entities providing down payment assistance are often not familiar with each others programs.
- Put up a user-friendly web site containing information on how to manage credit, obtain a mortgage, accessing government, non-profit and for-profit housing programs for down payment assistance, rehabilitation loans, historic restoration credit programs, etc.
- Develop urban homesteading programs to reclaim older downtown homes formerly rented by students, who have deserted them for the new high-rise student housing on West Gorham Street.
- Set up "discontinuous condo associations" for owners of such disparate, non-contiguous housing.
A turtle ventured onto the well groomed grounds of Stately Blaska Manor. I believe the reptile was of the female persuasion. I say that because the prehistoric creature had dug a small hole in the lawn and was bobbing its rear quarters in and out of it. I believe it was depositing the next generation of turtledom into the fertile loam of the Blaska Experimental Center and Work Farm.
Later that afternoon, this ungainly creature was spotted across the street in June's lawn doing the same thing. I think this creature is a painted turtle. And if so, we can expect about eight young turtles to emerge in late August, if raccoons don't come along to dig them up and eat them.
If temperatures this summer are mostly above 84 degrees, most of the turtle hatchlings will be female. Below that temperature, mostly males. Now, isn't that odd? That's according to Herpnet.
Turtles, elephants, and chimpanzees are my favorite creatures.