Dear Andrew,

The Miller Park Neighborhood Association web site is the best! It also has
undoubtedly the most extensive discussion of affordable housing than any
other community council site. In reading it, I noticed a few familiar
themes from our work with MPNA over the years. One of these is the ability
to preserve or produce housing affordable across a wide income spectrum. As
you point out we have been able to acquire a few buildings in the
neighborhood which serve households up to 50% of median. We also were able
to construct one building that has a couple of units which we can rent to
households up to 80% of median. However, the vast majority of the new
market rate construction rents for quite a bit higher than these rents. I
did and do support the tax exemption program as one response to this
problem. As has been noted, one of the shortcomings of this type of
incentive program is that it is totally dependent on the willingness of the
developer to participate or not. In a market economy, if a developer can
get what they need in the way of rents why sign up for a program that limits
your options (even if nominally or even if we the community want them to) or
gives you what you can get without the program?

How might the funds from the new Housing Levy address this? Currently
virtually all the funds for rental housing are limited to households below
50% of median. However, the proposal from Mayor Nickels to the City Council
improves this in two ways.
up to 60% of median for rental preservation and production: There is a
slight increase in the maximum income level for the core rental housing
production program from 50%.

up to 80% of median for units produced under the Neighborhood Housing
Opportunity Program. These funds would be targeted to specific
neighborhoods. It is the kind of tool that does not currently exist for a
community like Miller Park.

In addition, the home ownership programs for first time homebuyers continue
to serve households up to 80% of median and there is more money allocated to
this purpose.

So there is a programmatic response in the Mayor's proposal to the kind of
market conditions that Miller Park has experienced. It is actually
influenced in part by the Miller Park story. And, without the
reauthorization of the Housing Levy, there is no money to do anything. I
would certainly urge your support of this Levy package and, in fact, strong
advocacy for these elements. Not everyone agrees even this broadening of
the program is a good idea.

Give me a call if I can answer any other questions about the new Levy
package.

Sincerely,

 

Chuck Weinstock
Capitol Hill Housing Improvement Program

(Addendum: too few people in the "neighborhood movement" in my opinion
are really willing to confront the complexities of the issues neighborhoods
face. It is so easy to grab simplistic, knee jerk responses. I appreciate
your effort to actually work an issue. As I mentioned, weighing in on the
Levy now is very important to (a) it happening at all and (b) being a tool
for Miller Park.