Members on the ad hoc committee on affordable housing, which met Tuesday, April 2, agreed that there is some confusion on what exactly affordable housing is.
One problem they are facing, members said, is that the term “affordable housing” has a stigma attached to it. People correlate “affordable” with HUD, or government-subsidized housing.
The two have nothing to do with each other, committee members stressed.
Affordable or work force housing means smaller homes on smaller lots. The homes would benefit young families just starting out or older people who don’t necessarily want large lots to maintain.
“The goal is to provide some alternative housing for people who want to move into the community and feel that the only way they can afford it is by buying an older house in town and dealing with the floor plan, or if you want to buy something newer — your only option may be to buy a half of a duplex,” said Darren Lamb, economic development director.
Jim Wilson, a local builder, said Washington will not grow without making some changes to its housing codes.
With more affordable housing, people in older homes may be able to move into larger homes, Tom Holdmeier, planning and zoning member, pointed out.
Lamb noted that the committee is trying to create options for owner-occupied housing, as opposed to apartment complexes or rental units.
“The committee is trying to make single-family housing so people can create smaller homes on smaller lots,” Lamb said.
Homes will be more affordable because they will be on a smaller lot and the footprint of the home may be smaller, around 1,200 to 1,600 square feet.
The homes would range in price beginning at about $150,000 and would target families in the $70,000 annual income range.
Based on census data with the profile of the general population and housing characteristics, which was passed out during the meeting, Washington and the 63090 ZIP code had higher per household and average income levels than Union and the 63084 ZIP code.
The committee was formed to study how changing lot sizes and/or street widths would impact the city.
The committee includes city employees for advisement, realtors, bankers, developers and engineers.