CINCINNATI — A piece of Cincinnati history is being transformed from a hotel to affordable senior housing.
The Manse Hotel at 1004 Chapel Street in Walnut Hills will soon be the Manse Apartments.
“Thurgood Marshall, Frank Robinson stayed here when we would play against the Reds,” Bobby Maly with The Model Group said.
The Manse Hotel was home to African-Americans who visited Cincinnati during the Segregation Era.
The property has been vacant for a year.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday for the redevelopment of the property.
“We get to preserve the Manse Hotel which is a really important part of Cincinnati’s history, but we get to do it in a way, I think, that honors the past,” Maly said.
The Model Group owns the property.
The developer has plans to restore the former historic hotel and the Manse Annex at 926 Chapel Street.
Maly said there are plans to construct a new 18-unit building behind the hotel at 926 Lincoln Avenue.
“We get to bring 60 brand new, top quality housing units for Walnut Hills seniors, so people can stay in their homes and in their community of Walnut Hills,” Maly said.
The project costs $13 million.
Maly said it was made possible by a tax abatement and a $1 million loan from the City of Cincinnati, along with a historic tax credit.
The new affordable housing will offer a fitness room and indoor and outdoor community space.
Episcopal Retirement Services will serve as the property manager.
“We’ll be the ones that coordinate the services provided to the elders. We’re partners of the Model Group, who is our developer, and we’re just so excited,” Episcopal Retirement Services CEO Laura Lamb said.
Construction is expected to wrap up by the spring of 2020, with apartments ready for residents by the fall.
Seniors interested in living there can learn more about the application process by calling Episcopal Retirement Services at 513-271-9610.
On Thursday, a Board of Supervisors committee tossed out a plan by Mayor London Breed to make it faster and easier to build new housing for teachers in San Francisco, squashing Breed’s proposal after months of debate.
Breed’s plan would have amended the city charter and done away with certain tools that the public can use to appeal new building projects in the case of developments meant for teacher housing.
The now-defunct proposal defined teacher housing as: “A project for the development of residential units, where no less than two-thirds of the units are deed-restricted for the life of the project or a minimum of 55 years (whichever is longer) […] to occupancy by at least one employee of the San Francisco Unified School District or San Francisco Community College District.”
City lawmakers didn’t like the broadness of those terms—or the mayor’s requirement that the housing “be affordable to households with an income up to 140 percent of the unadjusted area median family income,” wanting to see homes cheaper and aimed more exclusively at educators.
At Thursday’s Rules Committee meeting, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer also chafed at the idea of altering the city charter.
“These definitions should not be set in stone,” she said.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin called the charter “sacrosanct” and pointed out that even the teacher’s union did not back the mayor’s proposal.
“That should be a very clear signal,” he said.
After the committee voted against the plan, Breed offered a stinging statement, saying via email, “I’m tired of people saying we’re in a housing crisis and then rejecting solutions that will actually make a difference. The status quo means less affordable housing will be built, more people will be priced out, and the crisis will only get worse.”
In lieu of Breed’s amendment, the committee pushed forward a competing idea for teacher housing, one written by supervisors, which would build new housing for teachers on public land.
This plan—which would not amend the charter—requires all homes in a qualifying development to go to school employees, rather than just two-thirds of them. It also lays out different ideas about affordability:
At least four-fifths of the units in an Educator Housing Project must be deed restricted for the Life of the Project or 55 years (whichever is longer) and consistent with any applicable tax credit regulatory requirements to be affordable to households with an income from 30 percent to 140 percent of the unadjusted area median family income (AMI), with an overall average of l00% AMI across all such units. Up to one- fifth of the units may be deed restricted up to a maximum 160 percent AMI.
Civil servants in Ogun State have been assured of affordable housing that would not affect their take home by the present administration under the leadership of Governor Dapo Abiodun.
This assertion was made by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mr. Jagunmolu Akande Omoniyi while speaking with the media officer of the Ministry of Housing, Adeola Adebajo shortly after his familiarisation visit to the Ministry.
Mr. Omoniyi stated that governor Abiodun had identified housing as an essential element in human’s need, noting that the administration is proposing to lay a massive ground breaking ceremony that would cut across the three senatorial districts during the marking of first 100days in office.
“His Excellency Prince (Dr.) Dapo Abiodun has plans for massive housing projects for the benefit of citizens, and we are planning to develop the housing projects within the three senatorial districts of the State,” the Special Adviser assured.
Mr. Omoniyi disclosed that government would partner with Private Developers to invest in housing sector, revealing that the present administration intends to collaborate with stakeholders such as Federal Mortgage Bank and National Housing Fund to deliver affordable housing to the citizenry
Earlier in his address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Engr. Olayiwola Abiodun lauded the Governor for putting a round peg in a round hole with the appointment of Mr. Omoniyi as the Special Adviser on housing.
The Permanent Secretary who assured that the ministry would not relent in its efforts at supporting the set goals of the present administration charged the management staff to brace up and discharge their duties accordingly.
By the year 2030, an estimated 3 billion more people will need housing, which will require a massive industrialised housing construction boom if production is to keep up with demand.
However, the environmental impact of fulfilling the promise of safe, adequate, affordable housing for all could be even more disastrous than doing nothing.
New units will consume an immense amount of resources like land, cement and steel, and guzzle water and burn energy. Furthermore, as standards of living improve around the world, more homes will be furnished with toilets, microwaves, refrigerators, heating/cooling systems, and the electrical needs of a digital future.
Yet, we don’t have a choice. Access to adequate housing is a human right, which must be respected if we wish to meet our commitments to our common global goals.
So how can we meet our aspirations to house our growing population without destroying the environment?
Green housing is still perceived as a luxury, yet most of the houses that will be built, will be in emerging markets for households who cannot afford to invest in high-tech housing. In fact, a lot of resources are being spent trying to reduce construction costs to a bare minimum in order to make housing more affordable.
Fortunately, building a green home goes beyond simply adding solar panels on a rooftop and does not necessarily require high-tech innovations in order to be green. Instead, we must take into account the entire value chain of building a home with many green features, which in fact, can help reduce costs today and in the long-term.
Here are three simple principles that should be adopted worldwide to both help reduce costs and our ecological footprint.
We must take into account the entire value chain of building a home with many green features, which in fact, can help reduce costs today and in the long-term.
First, we should minimise our land use and seek to maximise density without destroying our cities’ social fabric. With the majority of the world’s population living in urban areas, the practicality of owning a single-family home has become increasingly unlikely.
To avoid urban sprawl and conserve natural resources, we must go upwards. In doing so, we will reduce one of the greatest costs of urban homes, maximise energy efficiencies, and increase greenspaces that might otherwise have fallen prey to unwise development.
Secondly, our homes should be built with their life-cycle costs in mind. Energy and water usages should be taken into account when choosing designs and fixtures. Fortunately, implementing frameworks such as the EDGE tool, a low-cost alternative to LEED Certified building, can achieve this while being mindful of preserving affordability.
Finally, because we need to build with the future in mind, ensuring that homes are still desirable decades down the road is fundamental. Maintenance costs are too often an afterthought in many housing programs, but crucial to sustainable development. By planning ahead, we will waste fewer resources in the long term for minimal upfront costs today.
Though it may be difficult to enforce these measures, at the very least, we should demand that all government subsidised housing programs should follow these simple rules in order to avoid wasting our planet’s precious resources.
We simply cannot afford to squander economic and environmental resources on houses that will not survive the tests of time.
You may have heard the term ‘co-housing’ bandied about lately, along with ‘co-living’ and ‘cooperative housing’. Abigail Hurst examines these hot words that need to be taken seriously so that, together, the industry can tackle issues like New Zealand’s housing crisis.
No longer just left standing on the edge of the field but rising stars – or threats to the way in which we understand property ownership – are the various emerging forms of co-housing. Co-housing presents solutions that reach across boundary lines and build physical spaces, fostering meaningful relationships.
Co-housing says New Zealand does not need more drawings for individual futures but weavers to create proposals for more interdependence. So, why have we not picked up our knitting needles already?
One of the first co-housing developments was built in 1972 outside Copenhagen, Denmark. Twenty-seven families, frustrated by the available housing options, united to create their own neighbourhood, living in separate houses but owning the land collectively.1 This community is still thriving, with extensive shared facilities – a common house with a large kitchen and dining area, gardens and play areas – continuing to create interactions that knit the community together.
Originally named ‘bofællesskab’, meaning ‘living community’, the idea was coined ‘co-housing’ when it was introduced to the United States.2 Co-housing developments have been built throughout North America and Europe, as well as in Australasia. Earthsong, our first completed, purpose-built, co-housing development, was founded by a group of motivated individuals in 1995.3
Communal living is nothing new; it is part of our human history. Before individual land ownership, our civilisations lived together in arrangements not unlike co-housing. Māori commonly lived in whānau-based kāinga: extended families living together with a variety of shared building types. Other intentional communities, such as housing cooperatives in the United Kingdom by the Rochdale Pioneers in 1861, or kibbutzim in Israel in the early 1900s, exist and their outcomes may look similar.
Cooperative housing, linked to these movements, has been built in New Zealand since the 1970s. In the early 1980s, recommendations were made to our government to support these endeavours4 but resulted in little action – the ventures largely failed, though remnants still stand today in various parts of the country.5 The co-housing movement, however, is identified as separate from this and is, primarily, a conscious reaction to 20th-century living.6
Similar challenges face us today, with changing demographics, the disproportionate cost of property relative to income, a need to care for the environment and a desire for actual community (not just the online variety). Co-housing could shift us back to the roots of our social structures, where the larger family lived communally and generations looked after one another on a more involved basis.
Co-housing is a flexible concept that wrestles with any definition. Examples can be found in urban city centres as well as in rural areas. It is not strictly residential either and, sometimes, includes commercial enterprises. However, it can generally be recognised by a participatory design process, extensive common facilities, separate income sources and a non-hierarchical resident management structure.7
Traditionally facilitating regular shared meals and rostered property-maintenance duties, co-housing affronts living the way we know it. These activities foster relationships and are what help the communities to function. Engaging with people is required on a more involved, frequent level than is the case in our typical suburban set-up.
These characteristics seem inclusive and fair; still, there is something that makes us feel uncomfortable. There is the ring of an ideology that sounds too utopian and concerns about personality conflicts and issues of privacy lurk. Co-housing dwellers acknowledge that “conflict is integral to living in the community”8 but, to them, it is worth it.
It is the opportunity to live more closely with others: to listen and learn. It offers a new way of housing out of a desire for a more practical, economical and social living environment, without isolation from its context. This is not about people seeking to live separately from the rest of society but about a group of people cooperating with one another to live better within their neighbourhood.
The Peterborough Housing Co-operative (the Co-op), located on Peterborough Street in central Christchurch, is doing just that. It began in 1980 when a large inner-city property, consisting of six individual houses, became available. Families rented the houses on trust-owned land, forming a community until the destruction caused by the Canterbury earthquakes.
A core group of people has remained and worked together since to rebuild the community. Allfrey + South Architects was engaged by the Co-op in 2016 for the design of a neighbourhood. The new development, now under construction, will be bigger, with 14 units, a shared laundry, a common house, grounds and a photovoltaic power network subsidising the collective power bill.
The original six houses (now demolished) were at times ill-fit, especially in winter when each one was too small for gathering inside together. The new houses will face each other as two rows with shared ground between. Strategic placement of the common house (including generous kitchen and dining spaces) at one end of the site and a shared laundry room at the other will create further opportunities for social interaction.
Increasing these opportunities for human connection is what co-housing seeks to do. However, having the right amount of private space is just as critical, in order to create balance. For this reason, Allfrey + South Architects designed each housing unit to have private outside space.
Within, the kitchen faces the porch and acts as mediator between the more public realm and the private living room. This arrangement encourages socialising but does not make it mandatory. Another key move made by the Co-op is to push the car parks to the site’s edge. This makes for safer spaces between the buildings and for more land to be available for other uses and, again, increases the chances of meeting others in everyday life.
Collett’s Corner, located on a prominent corner site in Christchurch’s Lyttelton, is a development also putting human connection first. The proposal did not begin with “let’s do co-housing”; it started with “what are the needs of Lyttelton?”
A two-year consultation process has led to a four-storeyed (plus roof terrace) proposal that includes both residential and commercial spaces – a restaurant, retail, a wellness centre, a gym and an open courtyard on the lower two levels, and residential on the upper storeys. Led by Ohu (Office for Holistic Urbanism), an entity that describes itself as a property development group “putting people and communities at the heart of development”, the project has now completed a crowd-funding round and is beginning its developed design phase. The intention is that it will be built by 2021.
Although the residential component of Collett’s Corner could be called ‘co-housing’, it is probably more apt to call it ‘co-living’. With so many models of collaborative living emerging, we need to be more precise with our language and invent and agree on new terms as an industry.
Camia Young, former American architect and founder of the Christchurch-based company Ohu, says it is useful to think about a spectrum between suburbia (non-shared) and co-housing (shared). Young describes co-living as a gentle middle-ground in-between. While there are more opportunities for meeting people, there is no requirement to be living in community. A co-living arrangement typically does not propose dinner rosters but takes the form of apartment-style living with shared amenities.
This is what another Christchurch project, the Madras Square neighbourhood by the Ōtautahi Urban Guild (a joint venture being led by Ohu), hopes to deliver. A key driver for the Guild is to provide affordable housing within the city, aiming to offer homes at 10–20 per cent below market rates. Guild spokesperson James Stewart says this can be achieved through the sharing of consultant costs, no added profit margins and options for shared facilities.
Other amenities are presented but not obligatory and can be included in the price (or not), enabling people to prioritise their space and money. Co-working spaces, shared car and bike schemes, and sustainable power generation are also possibilities that could allow people better access to living more sustainably.
When more people choose to buy into these, co-owned spaces make up a larger footprint of the development, also increasing the economic viability. This model relies on detailed and direct discussions with interested people at the feasibility stage. The Guild is currently engaging with a community of prospective buyers and design workshops will soon take place.
Madras Square, proposed on a site of 8,000m2 on the corner of Madras and Gloucester Streets, has the potential not only to deliver affordable housing but also to regenerate inner-city Christchurch. The proposal to introduce about 150 housing units (developed around groups of 40 people to fit within the optimum scale of community) would give a lively, round-the-clock dynamic to a city that has largely failed at more than a 9–5 city culture.
This is the site of the failed Breathe Urban Village project where, after a competition in 2013, no project went ahead because none was financially viabile. It is hoped that this non-traditional strategy will have a competitive edge to excite people about living in community, in the city. If it succeeds, it will not only be a win for the site and for Christchurch but, also, for the country.
Who, you may ask, is buying into these collaborative housing models? Primarily, says Young, people who are suffering from the housing crisis. Secondly, there is a generation that is growing older and does not want to live in retirement villages on the city fringes. These people want to continue to live in their own investments, with additional shared facilities for which they don’t have to be solely responsible. There is also a third group signing up because they are genuinely interested in understanding what it means to live intimately as a society: to create sustainable behaviours where there is mutual support. Collaborative living could be an answer to the world’s imbalance of wealth, collectively generating social and financial returns to bring equality.
This may sound like an economic, social experiment bound for either greatness or disaster, if one too many stitches are dropped. However, just across the ditch are examples of similar developments that are working. Nightingale Housing has created a replicable model for housing provision in Australia, with a completed project located in Brunswick, Melbourne, and more are under way.
One of these is Nightingale Village, also located in Brunswick: a precinct that will bring seven communities, seven apartment blocks and seven different architects within one master plan, realising co-housing at a village-sized scale. Its impact will pivot the Australian property market, albeit slowly.
Nightingale has no real estate agents but its residential properties are being bought so quickly there is a waiting list. Furthermore, Nightingale does not pay GST because there is no technical ‘sale’ of the properties, only a managed process of the not-for-profit developer collaborating with people needing houses. No sales revenue so no GST – a cost saving reflected in the below-market sales prices. Paying attention yet?
Not only does our vocabulary for these strategies of housing need to play catch-up but our country’s financial, legal and regulatory models do as well. There are ways to create co-housing (and co-living) developments but it is a tricky and costly navigation. At the small-scale end of co-housing, friend groups are finding the way forward can be met with lengthy and expensive consultant meetings, resulting in compromised designs shoehorned to fit existing rules.
The good news is that developers like Ohu have pooled resources to break ground that should eventually lead to more transparent, smooth processes, with any luck changing stiff legal and value definitions in their wake. Terms of sale, restrictive covenants and body corporates are mechanisms that need to be altered carefully to work for, not against, co-housing.
Co-housing will not be for everyone but it is worth questioning whether our existing arrangements of ownership and living are the best. Are we just living and designing what we already know because it is easier? Are we going to engage with this collaborative housing concept with a steely exterior or with open arms? If architecture is not just a question of shelter but one of human endeavour, our architectural profession must participate in co-housing and learn what solutions it can provide in our context.
Solutions for the housing crisis are mostly at a stalemate, with not even KiwiBuild meeting its targets, and co-housing could be a game-changer. If the government is too slow to listen, Nightingale and Ohu are showing that it’s possible to take over the role of developer and work nimbly within the current constraints.
Collaborative housing has enough merit to deserve architect-led developments. It needs architectural input to help solve its many complex social, legal, financial and design challenges. If society is our tapestry and the built environment its framework, perhaps co-housing is a new stitch that architects can use to knit our rich diversity together.
Should city officials consider a sales tax increase to tackle affordable housing?
Port Angeles City Council member Mike French said the idea is worth a “hard look” given a new tax credit offered to cities and counties that lack affordable and supportive housing.
“This would be a sales tax increase that would pair with a sales tax credit from the state,” French said during a City Council think tank last week.
“It’s possibly an uncomfortable topic, but I think it’s something we should take a hard look at.”
House Bill 1406, which was co-sponsored by state Reps. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles and Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend and signed into law May 9, encourages “investments in affordable and supportive housing.”
It provides cities and counties that adopt qualifying local taxes with matching state sales tax revenue to be used on affordable housing initiatives.
One qualifying tax would be a maximum one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax increase authorized under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Section 82.14.530, French said.
If the council decided to put such a tax on the ballot — and voters approved it — the city would create an affordable housing fund and receive an additional 0.0146 percent in state sales tax revenue, French said.
The 0.1-percent tax increase would raise about $320,000 per year. The 0.0146-percent match would generate about $55,000 annually, French said.
The current sales tax rate in Port Angeles is 8.7 percent.
Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said the city should take advantage of the tax credit.
“Not having affordable housing is hurting our economy and this is a way, a time-sensitive way, for us to take action on it,” Schromen-Wawrin said.
The City Council took no action on the idea in its July 2 think tank.
Council member Cherie Kidd said a proposal to raise taxes would require “a lot of explanation.”
Think tanks were implemented by the council to encourage a free exchange of ideas.
Four or more council members cannot discuss policy or meet privately under the state Open Public Meetings Act.
French floated the idea to pursue the sales tax/tax credit after attending a Association of Washington Cities conference with Schromen-Wawrin, Mayor Sissi Bruch and Port Angeles City Manager Nathan West.
“We are not the only city that is facing the housing crunch,” Bruch said at the think tank.
“The state is very aware of the need out there for housing. So they are willing to work with cities and counties to try to get us some funding so we can do something for the housing.”
In a public comment period that preceded the discussion, Peninsula Housing Authority Executive Director Kay Kassinger urged the council to consider House Bill 1406 as a tool to help address the housing shortage.
The 20-year tax credit can be used to finance loans or grants to nonprofits or housing authorities to acquire, build or rehabilitate housing or to pay for rental assistance, Kassinger said.
“We’ve all been looking and talking about how we can affect the affordable housing issues and increase the stock here in Port Angeles, and this legislation provides the city with a new financial tool in this quest for additional affordable housing,” Kassinger said.
“It’s got to be a public-private partnership,” she added, “because we as an agency cannot build out of this problem.”
French said there were multiple presentations on House Bill 1406 at the June 25-28 conference in Spokane.
The idea behind the legislation was to allow cities and counties to “take the lead” on their own housing challenges, he said.
“It’s a great tool for local governments to spend our money in a way that’s tailored to our communities’ needs,” French said.
French added that the sales tax/tax credit would be more palatable than raising property taxes.
“The tourists would be helping to pay for the growing pains of our tourism industry,” French said.
“That seems more fair to me than a property tax.”
Kidd suggested that the city work with state officials to lift onerous regulations that dissuade builders from creating more housing stock.
“We’re getting down to ‘If you build an outhouse, what is your stormwater treatment plan?’ ” Kidd said.
“It’s just gotten so over-regulated within the city.”
Council member Jim Moran agreed, saying the state Department of Ecology considers a gravel driveway as a non-permeable surface, which requires costly stormwater mitigation.
“This is a multi-faceted question,” Moran said of the affordable housing issue.
“Whereas I agree with the option of getting some more state money — and I have no problem, Mike, with that one-tenth of 1-percent sales tax — I also would like us to pursue aggressively administrative relief in certain areas, specifically stormwater.”
French concluded his pitch by saying a sales tax increase would require a vote of the people.
“Do our citizens view this issue as salient?” French asked.
“Or do they think that this is something that they want their government to engage in?
“They might say no,” French added.
“And that’s fine. If they say no, then they’ve told us what they think.”
The government of Kenya has secured a commitment from China and Qatar to construct over 300,000 affordable housing units in Kenya as part of the government’s Big Four Agenda spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
James Macharia, Transport, and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary confirmed the reports and said that the Chinese multinational will construct 100,000 units while two Qatari firms will construct 200,000 units.
“The government is in talks with the investors and the investment will go a long way towards achieving the Big Four Agenda on housing which aims to construct 500,000 affordable houses across the country by 2022,” said Mr. Macharia.
Big four Agenda
According to the Big four agenda plan, the housing units will be divided into a social housing costing a maximum of US $6,000, a bedsitter housing plan costing a maximum of US $8000, a 2-bedroomed for US $10,000 and a 3-bedroomed for US $20,000.
Currently, due to financing regulatory hurdles, 50,000 units out of the 250,000 demanded housing units are being developed annually. The project according to Macharia will dependent heavily on domestic resources mobilization.
Additionally the Cabinet Secretary held talks with with Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and the country’s Transport and Communications minister Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti on ways to improve cooperation between the two countries.
Cs Macharia also urged Chinese investors to dedicate more resources to Africa when he attended the Beijing Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing. “We will continue working with China together with our neighbors to implement seamless infrastructure projects that will improve the lives of our people,” added the Minister.
In America’s fast-growing cities, the need for new housing isn’t keeping up with the demand. A handful of cities have found some new policy ideas to address a problem that doesn’t have a silver-bullet solution. Five big lessons from cities across the country—and a surprise.
Single-family housing can be un-zoned
The middle-class dream of a single-family home is the biggest impediment to affordable housing, according to some housing activists—it keeps prices up by preventing new and denser developments, and NIMBY homeowners can be a potent political obstacle to change. But not always: In Minneapolis, the city council abolished single-family zoning in December. On lots where only one home could be built, now developers can put duplexes and triplexes.
Veterans have a secret weapon
In Arlington, Virginia (outside Washington, D.C.) one American Legion post has partnered with a local affordable housing non-profit to build 160 affordably priced apartments on its property, about half of which will go to veterans. The Legion has thousands of posts across the country, a huge inventory of convertible locations.
The number of Americans who became renters from 2005-2015, the largest growth of any 10-year period since 1965.
The number of affordable housing units lost each year.
Tiny homes can tackle a big problem
Tiny homes might sound like a cute fad—virtue-signaling for the less-is-more crowd—but they can also offer a lifeline. In Detroit, a Methodist minister has assembled a small village of a dozen 400-square-foot houses to help once-homeless people, seniors and other low-income residents achieve permanent housing. The occupants can rent-to-own over seven years.
Housing affordability is a racial justice issue
Throughout much of the 20th century building boom that came to define the look of major American cities, racist deed restrictions and redlining were used to keep minorities out of a city’s so-called best neighborhoods. The explicitly racist housing policies are long gone, but some Minneapolis activists believe single-family zoning has perpetuated those policies. Integration, they say, will follow more affordable housing options.
The increase in median rent nationally from 2001 to 2015.
The annual decline in median income over the same period.
Can 3D printing transform home construction?
Viral videos of robotic arms squeezing out sinuous layers of concrete offer the promise of homes built in a day for less than the average millennial pays in annual rent. Startups have pitched 3D-printed homes as a solution to everything from disaster recovery to Mars colonization, but so far builders are struggling to bridge the gap between aspiration and permitted structures that people can actually live in.
…AND A SURPRISE:
The problem goes up to the Supreme Court. Nearly a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld zoning laws, employing an anti-apartment argument that many density-favoring modern planners would find objectionable: “Very often the apartment house is a mere parasite…interfering by their height and bulk with the free circulation of air and monopolizing the rays of the sun which otherwise would fall upon the smaller homes…until, finally, the residential character of the neighborhood and its desirability as a place of detached residences are utterly destroyed.” It’s more or less the argument that critics of rezoning employ to this day.
Housing affordability in Australia is now at the best level since 1999 following a series of interest rate cuts, a report says.
The Housing Industry Association acknowledged median property prices had surged by 228 per cent during the past two decades, a level that is more than double the 113 per cent increase in average earnings.
Despite that, the group’s senior economist Geordan Murray said Reserve Bank of Australia interest rate cuts in June and July had made servicing a home loan easier in 2019 than it was 20 years ago, with the cash rate now at a record low of one per cent.
‘For a home buyer with an average-income purchasing a median priced dwelling, mortgage repayments will consume the smallest proportion of their earnings since 1999,’ he said
His call may seem controversial, with many young people struggling to save up for a mortgage deposit.
Sydney’s median house price of $866,524 is more than 10 times an average Australian full-time salary of $83,500.
A borrower or a couple need to earn $150,000 a year, or 1.8 times an average wage, to afford a typical suburban house in Australia’s biggest city without being in mortgage stress, the HIA acknowledged.
Across Australia’s capital cities, median house and unit prices stand at $590,431, CoreLogic data shows, which is more than 10 times the national median income of $55,400.
Despite that, the HIA argued housing affordability across Australia’s eight capital cities and key regional areas was the best in 20 years based on lower rates.
With the official cash rate now at one per cent, borrowers are paying average standard variable rates of 4.6 per cent.
In 1999, borrowers were paying 6.7 per cent mortgage rates when the cash rate was five per cent.
The gap between the RBA cash rate and typical standard variable mortgage rates, however, has significantly widened from 1.7 percentage points to 3.6 percentage points.
Still, the HIA was optimistic of market conditions improving for first-home buyers.
Last week, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority dropped a requirement for lenders to model a borrower’s ability to pay off a 7.25 per cent mortgage rate.
During the election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised the government would establish a $500million First Home Deposit Scheme whereby taxpayers would fund a 20 per cent deposit if borrowers stumped up five per cent.
Median house prices also fell in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin during the June quarter, CoreLogic data showed.
The HIA’s affordability measure showed homes were more accessible in every capital city during that time.
Darwin had the greatest affordability improvement of 4.8 per cent, followed by Melbourne (three per cent), Perth and Brisbane (2.6 per cent), Sydney and Canberra (2.4 per cent), Hobart (2.2 per cent) and Adelaide (one per cent).
The Ashland Planning Commission approved the site design Tuesday for a 60-unit affordable housing project.
The project is the second phase of the Snowberry Brook apartments at 2261 Villard St.
According to Planning Commission Chair Roger Pearce, the second-floor neighbors in the surrounding condos were not given notice of the project due to a mistake on the county property tax records. So the hearing was reopened for three people to testify in favor of the project and four who expressed concerns regarding safety and increased traffic.
Neighbors were not opposed to the affordable housing project, but several — including a woman who read a statement she said was signed by 25 neighbors — asked that a locked gate be placed on McCall Drive to protect pedestrians from increased traffic. Pearce said it would be up to the Public Works Department and Transportation Commission to decide that issue.
“If they’re putting traffic-calming devices in the street or taking them out, that’s all Public Works,” Pearce said. “That’s not our bailiwick. Our bailiwick is to approve the street design, and the street design is an alley connecting to McCall. It meets the site criteria, and if they want to limit vehicular access across there, they need to make their case to Public Works.”
The project includes four two-story eight-plex apartments, and seven two-story townhouse four-plexes. The units would include 10 one-bedroom flats, 12 two-bedroom flats, 10 three-bedroom flats and 28 two-bedroom townhomes.
The plan calls for 86 off-street parking spaces, 19 on-street spots and 90 covered bicycle parking spaces.
Pearce said the applicant, the Housing Authority of Jackson County, decided to remove a basketball court that had been proposed for a recreation area in order to minimize noise on that side of the development.
Rogue Action Center field organizer Jessie Kinney said volunteers took a survey of Snowberry Brook residents last weekend asking what they thought about the apartments, whether there should be more, and what they would tell people who think affordable housing options like it aren’t necessary.
She said she received a multitude of answers, but all were positive, ranging from students who were thankful that they could afford housing while going to school and working, to one person who suffered health problems from mold that grew in their last building, which they couldn’t afford to leave until Snowberry Brook opened.
“They said things like, ‘We are a community of people and everyone needs access to housing, and we have to think about everyone,’” Kinney said. “So in a county where nearly 50% of residents rent, and in a city where the fastest growing employment sectors are retail and service, which do not pay enough for households to afford average market rent, any opportunity to create housing options for individuals and families that live and work here need to be prioritized and incentivized.”