On Monday, the Bellevue City Council considered a request from the chairman of the Planning Commission to study options for increasing the city’s supply of affordable housing.
One option would change the way the city calculates how dense new housing could be on a given property, allowing more flexibility as to the number and mix of residential units. A second option would reduce parking requirements in areas that offer transit options. The idea is to increase affordable housing by reducing the cost of new housing.
Editor’s Note: As a real estate broker in Bellevue, I find these ideas very interesting – but feel that the price of housing is what someone is willing to pay for it and does not always have a lot to do with how much it cost to build.
In my experience across many markets, the best way to create ‘affordable housing’ is with partnerships between developers, builders, investors, lenders and governmental agencies. The way to make affordable housing attractive to investors, lenders and developers is by granting tax credits or creative special tax programs and making available special low cost financing. Without incentives like these, there is no incentive for them to make any projects ‘affordable housing’. I don’t think zoning or parking requirement changes are incentives – and am unsure how they might propose to ensure those properties affected would become ‘affordable’.
What is YOUR take?