It’s no secret that our state is exploding with growth.
As permanent residents of Treasure Valley, we experience our state’s growing pains alongside many other Idahoans. Because our business is to help others live here – whether through real estate, conscious neighborhood development or sustainable construction – we also know that housing can be done better, especially when it’s about building affordably from the start.
While it may seem like construction is happening all over the place, Treasure Valley still lacks 24,000 affordable, available homes to meet demand. The rising cost of homes to buy and rent is a national phenomenon. Ada County has a median price of $592,090 for a single family home. Developers can and should be able to build the type of housing that meets the needs of our community, along with the infrastructure – for example, public transit or proximity to commuter trails – that we all benefit from. .
The solution to affordable housing is not to sprawl outward, which would make us just like California and other states that people desperately want to leave. Rather, we need to think outside the box to embed affordability early in the development process to prevent the premises and employees our business community needs from being overpriced. Here’s where to start:
Build more secondary suites alongside single family homes. These units typically take up a small amount of space, less than 700 square feet, and can easily be rented out. Accessory dwelling units can be built as a space saver in new single family development projects to be modified later. Also, as long as lines for utilities are placed in advance and electrical panels are sized to accommodate the additional unit, these units can be added to existing homes.
Build single-occupancy apartments – and ditch parking requirements. People want to live on their own, and with fewer people having kids or starting families later in life, they need 400 square foot options. Younger people deserve a sense of autonomy at a reduced price, and many of them do not want to own a car but want to live near the city centre.
Encourage cohabitation for senior homeowners. As more seniors struggle to pay their property taxes, mortgages or rent, they can turn to solutions like ElderHelp in Coeur d’Alene. With a mission to match senior homeowners with renters looking to share space in their home at an affordable price, multi-generational homes are created with a greater sense of community.
Require 10% for affordability. Implementing affordable housing measures is not impossible and, contrary to popular belief, it is a natural step in the right direction. There are grants and funding available, and links need to be made between developers and the city. The City of Boise is already starting to do this through its housing bonus ordinance. By providing incentives to landlords who develop or preserve affordable housing, the ordinance helps increase the number of affordable units and helps preserve existing buildings to increase housing need.
Attend the City of Boise Zoning Code Rewrite Open House. The city is hosting an open house for all residents on July 18 and 28 where you can learn more about the future of our city and present your concerns. To RSVP, go to their website.
Very few of us need a 2,000 square foot home with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms to ourselves. What we need is access to parks and nature, the ability to walk or cycle to work, to shop and play safely, and to a sense of belonging and connection in our neighborhoods. Our development must reflect these needs.