Fort Collins affordable housing gaps topic of Sept. 19 open house

Addressing the affordable housing gap and keeping it from widening in Fort Collins will likely take a multi-pronged approach, say city officials who will host an open house on the topic Sept. 19.

The open house will be 3-5 p.m. in 215 N. Mason St., Community Room. Staff from the Department of Social Sustainability will be available to discuss a series of proposed short-, mid- and long-term recommendations that range from continuing existing City policies to expanding the Land Bank program and exploring fee waivers and incentives to better balance the community’s housing stock.

After gathering public input in May, the city and its consultant, Economic & Planning Systems Inc., prepared a draft study this summer. The study, which is now available at fcgov.com/socialsustainability, recommends a series of legislative, cost-reduction, regulatory and alternative funding strategies.

Possible short-term solutions proposed by staff could include:
• Increasing the maximum available for homebuyer’s assistance through City programs
• Providing expanded fee waivers for affordable housing
• Designing incentives to increase affordable housing production
• Preserving manufactured housing parks
• Educating senior citizens about cohabitating options

Mid-term solutions could include:
• Activating the City’s Land Bank program
• Changing City code to encourage use of accessory dwelling units

Long-term solutions could include:
• Land Bank acquisition
• Creating alternative funding sources
• Improving infrastructure in northeast Fort Collins

The city has long identified affordable housing funding as a priority with affordable housing inventory typically lagging behind demand. For example, the study found that housing costs have increased 43 percent in the past 13 years while housing median incomes have increased 35 percent. At the same time, while the number of people commuting out of Fort Collins stayed flat, the people working in the city and living elsewhere increased by 9,400, whether for lifestyle preference or economic reasons.

“This is a start to understanding the needs and the city’s role in housing our workforce and providing move-up opportunities for people in the housing market,” said Sue Beck-Ferkiss, Social Sustainability Specialist who directed the study. “We also want to ensure that we’re taking care of the huge demand for rental housing in collaboration with the development community and such partners as CSU.”

The Department of Social Sustainability is within the Sustainability Services Area at the City. Social Sustainability is the practice of ensuring healthy social systems so people in the community can thrive.

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