Housing construction costs have increased in recent years, due in part to rising prices for building materials, labor, land, and regulations. As a result of these rising building costs, rents are going up. This combination of factors is creating a “housing cost-burden.” According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing (mortgage or rent plus utilities) are considered housing cost-burdened. They spend too much of their money on housing and often don’t have enough left over for other essentials like food, transportation and healthcare. Twenty-seven percent of Hamilton County households were housing cost-burdened in 2017.
Changing Household Makeup
The demographics and preferences of our community are also changing. Many people are choosing to rent for a variety of reasons. Families are smaller. There are more single-parent and non-traditional households, and many people want to live in walkable communities near work, shops and other amenities. Seniors are increasingly choosing to age in place, and their homes (often the most affordable option for first time homebuyers) are therefore not on the market for resale.
Benefits of Housing Diversity
A greater variety of housing types is needed to accommodate these changing demographics and preferences. This variety can also create additional benefits, such as:
Transitions - Townhomes, condos, apartments, and homes on smaller lots can serve as a needed transition, between the single-family homes and the commercial businesses.
Transportation Choices - Clustering a diversity of housing can bring transportation benefits, such as improved transit service, better bike infrastructure, and ultimately other modes of transit (such as street cars or light rail.)
Retail and Services - A greater concentration of housing increases the number of residents, which can then begin to attract new retail and services (including grocery stores.)
Mixed Residential Housing
What sort of housing can address these needs, while maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods? “Mixed Residential” refers to neighborhood-scaled buildings with multiple units in walkable communities that can provide a transition between existing single-family neighborhoods and more intense residential or commercial uses. Examples of the Mixed Residential Place Type (sometimes called “Missing Middle”) are shown below.
HOUSING OPTIONS: CONCLUSION
Changes in housing costs, demographics, and lifestyle preferences are all impacting the need for, and the ability to construct, a variety of new affordable housing. Providing a variety of housing choices throughout Hamilton County can also support desired businesses, such as grocery stores, and promote more transportation options.
Please contact Pam Glaser, Principal Planner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-643-5911.