Wednesday, February 04, 2009

a voice for affordable housing - part 2

I spoke again at the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting this morning on behalf of IMPACT.

Hello my name is Kim Wilkens, I live in the Rivanna District and am a member of IMPACT's Housing Committee.

Lately, we have been bombarded by distressing statistics about our economy like growing rates in unemployment, foreclosures and homelessness. If you are not part of these statistics, they can seem very abstract and overwhelming. That is why I am so grateful to be part of IMPACT, where I learn first hand from and get connected with people in our community who are struggling with these very issues. I am honored to represent IMPACT and to be a voice for those who every day are facing the affordable housing crisis in our community.

So let me say that IMPACT is encouraged with the progress made by the Joint Task Force on Affordable Housing over the last year. We believe all their recommendations are vitally important in resolving the current affordable housing crisis in our community. I am here to voice IMPACT support for one of these recommendations in particular: making comprehensive amendments to the existing proffer policy so that the policy more fairly addresses the various levels of need for affordable housing in Albemarle County.

The Albemarle County 2007 Housing Report indicates how successful a proffer policy can be: "Since the adoption of the County's Affordable Housing Policy in 2004, 1,600 affordable housing units have been proffered along with over $1.5 million in cash." However, as the task force members discovered - because of the way the existing policy is written, proffered units are:
- usually priced at points affordable to those at or about 80% AMI,
- affordability is only guaranteed for 5 years, and
- proffered for-sale units may not be affordable beyond the first sale.

IMPACT urges you to direct the Planning Commission to look at all the amendments that the Joint Task Force has put forward and to adopt a comprehensive proffer policy that includes:
1. a requirement that proffered units or cash offered include an equal share of units affordable at 3 levels: extremely low income (less than 30% AMI), very low income (30-60% AMI), and low income (60-80% AMI);
2. a mechanism that caps the value of proffered for sale units; and
3. a requirement that the term of affordability for proffered rental units be a minimum of 15 years.

A comprehensive review and amending of the County's proffer policy will help close the large gap of unmet housing needs identified in the 2007 State of Housing Report. Careful consideration and implementation of all the recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Affordable Housing will help you fulfill your mission to "enhance the well-being and quality of life for all citizens."

(got this in my e-mail this morning - coincidence?)
The contact of the affluent with the poor today is primarily through two means, television and statistics. We hear the stark statistics of human suffering and we watch starving children in living color. But what do those numbers mean to us, and how real are the young lives we glimpse for a moment in a news documentary? - One Humanity by Jim Wallis

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