Raymond Christman, Livable Communities Coalition

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"A New Roadmap for Workforce Development in DeKalb County" was presented by Raymond Christman, Executive Director of the Livable Communities Coalition at the Bringing Workers Home regional forum in Atlanta, June 2010, as part of the partnerships panel

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Raymond Christman, Livable Communities Coalition

  1. 1. A New Roadmap for Workforce Housing In DeKalb County Raymond Christman Executive Director Livable Communities Coalition
  2. 2. A Little Background… <ul><li>DeKalb County has a long-standing interest in workforce housing </li></ul><ul><li>Workforce Housing Task Force formed 5 years ago by Commissioner Johnson (District 3) and then-Commissioner Ellis (now CEO) </li></ul><ul><li>County focus to date has been on development of workforce housing zoning ordinance and providing mortgage assistance for “first responders” </li></ul><ul><li>Livable Communities Coalition was engaged by DeKalb County in late 2009 to take a comprehensive look at workforce housing issues and needs and present findings and recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>Coalition has been assisted by Perkins & Will for zoning and regulatory aspects </li></ul><ul><li>This study provides a comprehensive “road map” for change </li></ul>
  3. 3. How We Defined “Workforce Housing” <ul><li>Used ULI Terwilliger’s 60-120% definition, but COUNTY (not area) median income </li></ul><ul><li>Defined by this study as households earning $33,000 to $66,000/year </li></ul><ul><li>Housing affordable to workers with jobs that perform functions essential to DeKalb’s livability − DeKalb’s “workforce” </li></ul>
  4. 4. What We Did… <ul><li>Analyze existing conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Survey best practices nationally </li></ul><ul><li>Make the case for addressing workforce housing in DeKalb County </li></ul><ul><li>Develop recommendations relating to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>financing assistance programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>land use regulatory changes connecting workforce housing to transit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improving organizational and administrative oversight of WF housing </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Workforce Housing Findings <ul><li>About 30% (80,000) of DeKalb households = “workforce” households </li></ul><ul><li>About 30% of workforce households are seniors </li></ul><ul><li>Almost all housing programs in DeKalb are currently aimed at “affordable housing” – with federal strings attached </li></ul>
  6. 6. What Can DeKalb Workforce Households Afford? <ul><ul><li>Workforce households can comfortably buy a house costing $100,000 to $198,000 in DeKalb County </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comfortable rents fall in the $725 to $1,550 range </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is without consideration of transportation costs </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Socio-Economic Findings <ul><li>Relative balance between homeowners and renters: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>53% homeowners </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>47% renters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Workforce renter households tend to have lower incomes in lower range ($33,000 - $55,000) </li></ul><ul><li>60% of DeKalb’s units are single-family </li></ul><ul><li>Most construction from 2000 to 2008 occurred in south and east areas of DeKalb </li></ul>
  8. 8. Market Demand Findings Source: SmartNumbers
  9. 9. Where is “Workforce” and “Affordable” Housing Located?
  10. 10. Transportation Costs
  11. 11. Making the Case for Workforce Housing in DeKalb County…
  12. 12. Demand for Workforce Housing Will Increase <ul><ul><li>Most national and regional experts believe existing core urban areas – like DeKalb – will enjoy most growth over next 10-20 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workforce housing needs likely to growth fastest due to slow income and job growth </li></ul></ul>Where DeKalb Workers Live, 2008
  13. 13. Socio-economic and Demographic Forces are Impacting Workforce Housing <ul><ul><li>More seniors, more households without children, smaller family size – all impact the type and location of housing demand </li></ul></ul>Active Seniors Gas Prices Young Professionals Tighter Credit Standards
  14. 14. Supply of Housing Will Again Come Under Pressure <ul><ul><li>DeKalb has an estimated 4-5 year inventory of developed lots </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Low by regional standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As economy improves, pressures on housing price and availability will again build </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Workforce Housing and Economic Development are Closely Linked <ul><ul><li>DeKalb County is primarily residential with limited opportunities for commercial development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tax base growth has been constrained by lack of commercial investment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workforce housing can be a valuable economic tool, especially if located near existing transportation systems (transit stations and major roads) </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Any Major Urban Jurisdiction Needs a Workforce Housing Policy and Strategy <ul><ul><li>Localities facilitate market-rate housing development through zoning and other land use regulatory and permitting processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Affordable housing (both public and low-moderate income) typically addressed through dedicated programs and agencies and federal subsidy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workforce housing falls between the cracks—it requires special policies, incentives and support that need to be developed locally </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Recommendations: An Overview <ul><li>Four Major Areas: </li></ul><ul><li>Housing Programs and Finance Strategies (including Housing Preservation/Foreclosures) </li></ul><ul><li>Zoning and Land Use Regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Connecting Housing to Jobs and Transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Building Organizational and Administrative Capacity </li></ul>
  18. 18. Time Frame for Implementation <ul><ul><li>DeKalb County facing budget shortfalls like most local governments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our focus is on short-term actions (12-18 months) that county can take at little new expense </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build foundation for more expansive actions as economy improves </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Examples of Short-Term Recommendations <ul><ul><li>Put into place a Housing Trust Fund, using existing federal funds to create a revolving fund for workforce housing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carry out organizational and legal work to establish a land bank </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a 3-1-1 line and website for foreclosed properties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reorganize and upgrade code enforcement efforts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adopt a workforce housing ordinance </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Zoning and Land Use Regulation <ul><ul><li>DeKalb County zoning ordinance adopted in 1956 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Updating process now underway </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Current zoning deals with workforce housing in limited and incomplete way </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to adopt distinct workforce housing ordinance as part of broader zoning code </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Key Goals of Workforce Housing Ordinance <ul><ul><li>Clearly define workforce housing and households to be served </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify target areas to be served by the ordinance: key job centers and corridors, MARTA station areas, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish broad and flexible set of developer incentives (parking, fee waivers, setbacks, density bonuses, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adopt flexible, variable approach to implementing ordinance to meet both county (taxpayer) and developer objectives </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Next Steps <ul><ul><li>Report recommendations presented to DeKalb County Commission June 15 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full report will be printed and available by June 30 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coalition hopes to work with County on Phase 2 implementation, including focus on short-term recommendations and meetings with “community councils” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Desired outcome: Broader understanding and support for workforce housing throughout county </li></ul></ul>

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