Saturday, April 28, 2007

Could We Use Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs) In NE Ohio?

As a Realtor®, it's easy to be made aware of all the newly planned or just being built housing developments in our area. One of the frustrating aspects of all that has been the price points. $300k seems to be the standard for new town homes for example. There is one architecturally fabulous exception being built in Tremont (Starkweather me if you are interested). For the most part we seem to have new housing going up that no one can afford -- or barely afford as long as there is tax abatement.

When I lived in Maryland I was impressed with Montgomery County's Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program. For any new development in Montgomery County the developers of that project were required to set aside about 12% of the units as moderately priced homes. They allow people who meet certain residency requirements to enter a lottery and get on a list to own one of these lower priced units. This was a model program started in the 1970s. Of course, their home price points went through the roof so their moderately priced homes now would be way above what most of us could afford. But I really think it's an idea that our Planning Commission could explore.

The Center for Housing Policy issued a report called New Century Housing (it's in pdf format and 54 pages but a quality explanation of the idea) This next report was issued by the League of Women Voters in Montgomery County and it gives a further explanation and history of MPDUs there. This report explained that you were required to have MPDUs if your development was 35 units or larger. I did not remember that part. Anyway, curious to know what others think about this idea.

When I first moved out of Cleveland in the early '70s to attend college and make my way in the world, Ohio City was just being 'pioneered,' if I can call it that. I knew people who knew people and they were involved in starting the Call and Post, and trying to revitalize the area. But revitalize it in an inclusionary way. Manager Mark (my manager) has lived in Ohio City for years and years, and I was fascinated with his recounting of the mission and passion of Ohio City residents who did not just want 'rich' people in the neighborhood, but original residents as well.

When I look at some of the development occurring elsewhere, I still see 300k price points. And in fact, Ohio City sports quite a few new town home and condo complexes in that price range -- and higher. But there are still homes to be bought under $200k or less. In fact we are under contract (a client and I) on a home closer to 120k that exemplifies all the character of Ohio City architecture.

A lot of cities are experiencing a housing crisis because people can't afford to downsize when they need to, or even buy their first homes. I think our area could use an MPDU or AHU (Affordable Housing Unit) plan because some of us just are not interested, even if we can afford it, in putting all of our available monies into homes that cost over 300k. I guess I will get off my soapbox for now lol. I am slightly optimistic that the downtown development plans seem to be going in the direction of mixed use development and I am hoping that idea will take off as well. Here is the National Association of Home Builders take on Mixed Use. Here is the Wikipedia explanation of it. Do you like either of these ideas? Peace Out - 3C

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