Monday, December 19, 2016

The flaws of the Bailey Springs affordable housing plan

Back in April, the Town of Davidson floated an RFP for an affordable housing project on Town owned land in the Bailey Springs neighborhood on Davidson's East Side.

According to an email at the time from Cindy Reid, the Affordable Housing Coordinator, the list of RFP recipients included "any builder that had expressed an interest in affordable housing".  Ultimately though, only two responses were received, one from JCB Urban and another from True Homes.  Jim Burbank with JCB Urban is on the town's Affordable Housing Steering Committee.  True Homes is building out the revised affordable housing plan in the Bradford neighborhood across Davidson Concord Road from Bailey Springs.

JCB Urban got the nod.

On November 30th, the Bailey Springs neighborhood got to see the plan in a meeting coordinated by Town Hall.

  • 15 single family homes packed onto just over 2 acres in the neighborhood.
  • The houses will have no garages, and 15 year deed restrictions have been proposed.
  • Five will be built in conjunction with Habitat for the lowest tier Area Median Income (AMI), and the other 10 will be built for tiers up to 120% of the AMI.

"Qualifying incomes are between 50% and 120% of the area median income (based on family of 4): $33,500- $80,400"  Price points will be "$155k to $175k".

Most importantly for Davidson tax payers, in spite of the Town asking developers for offers for the land in its RFP, the land will be given away for free as part of the deal.

Taken all together, this plan raises several questions - especially when compared to the recently negotiated agreement with the Bradford neighborhood.  Here are a few:

  1. Why no garages?  In the Bradford neighborhood just across Davidson-Concord Road, residents fought hard to have their affordable housing plan updated to require garages for similar affordable single family homes.
  2. Why push for 15 year deed restrictions? In the recently completed agreement for Bradford only 10 years was required.  Deed restrictions are much more about the Town maintaining control than they are about helping people, and the Town pushing for this just looks bad when the Bradford model has worked well.
  3. Why cluster AH in one spot?  Yes, this landed was deeded years ago for affordable housing but clustering this many AH units together effectively creates a neighborhood within a neighborhood.  The Bradford plan mixed AH and market rate homes.
  4. Why give the land away for free?  This is unnecessary to achieve to goal of building affordable homes.  The AH homes in Bradford were built on land paid for by the developer (True Homes).  This giveaway costs the town hundreds of thousands of dollars, money that could be used to support the program elsewhere in town.
Hopefully, the Bailey Springs neighborhood will push for a plan with the town that doesn't put the neighborhood at a disadvantage as this program seeks to expand.

If you want to comment on the program in general, the Town is seeking input.  Click here for the survey.  You do have to register, but comments can be anonymous.

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