Friday, August 9, 2013

Mount Auburn study looks at current conditions, solutions for affordable workforce housing

A new study has highlighted ways in which Mount Auburn can create more workforce housing, providing more affordable housing options to people who may be priced out of living within reasonable proximity of their workplaces but may earn too much to qualify for direct housing assistance.

The "Workforce Housing Study", prepared for the Mount Auburn Chamber of Commerce and the Mount Auburn Community Council by freelance urban planner Katherine A. Burk, takes a look at the current conditions of the neighborhood's housing supply and demand, land use and zoning, and demographics to inform future decisions on local residential development decisions.

Among the study's findings:
  • Approximately 7,750 people live within the market area and more than 9,300 people are employed in the neighborhood, including 4,000 employees at Christ Hospital. The median annual household income was $30,146, nearly $22,000 less than the national median annual income.
  • There were a little more than 3,000 housing units in Mount Auburn in 2010, a decrease of 14 percent since 1990. Occupied housing units, of which 67 percent are occupied by renters, decreased by 20 percent from 2000 to 2010.
  • Sixty-six percent of the neighborhood's homeowners spend less than 30 percent of their income on housing. Data shows that housing is affordable for Mount Auburn's working homeowners, but less so for its working renters.
  • Renters in Mount Auburn spend in excess of 30 percent of their income on housing. New homeowners spent an average of $140,691 for single-family homes in 2012, an increase of 44 percent over 2006. However, the total number of homes sold is down 26 percent from 2006 levels.
  • Seventy-three percent of the neighborhood's housing units were built before 1939. Only 229 units have been created since 2000.
  • Forty-eight percent of Mount Auburn residences are multi-family, 29 percent are single-family, and 23 percent are two-family.
  • The top three land uses are residential (39 percent), public service (19 percent), and "vacant" (15 percent) – meaning that there is land available for infill development.
  • The top three zoning classifications are residential (28 percent), office (23 percent), and commercial (21 percent), although the actual use of the commercially-zoned parcels is lacking.
As a solution, the study recommends both the utilization of existing homebuyer assistance programs and policies that the neighborhood itself can implement.

For its own part, Mount Auburn can help organize homeownership seminars, reach out to realtors to share the community's assets, and host a community-wide open house showcasing for-sale homes. It can also partner with foundations or financial institutions on exterior housing improvement grants or low-interest loans and can work with those same institutions to identify and acquire foreclosed or abandoned properties at low or no cost.

Finally, the study suggests partnering with nonprofit or for-profit developers to provide infill and rehabilitated housing within the neighborhood.

Previous reading on BC:
Traffic impacts sought for 'confusing' Mount Auburn intersection (6/18/12)
Survey to help update Mount Auburn revitalization plan (3/12/12)