housing in the suburbs is an important smart growth strategy for multiple
reasons. It can advance racial integration, reduce concentrated poverty
and its social fallout, enhance welfare-to-work efforts, reduce traffic,
and improve regional growth. While there is no single correct
strategy, affordable housing must be a part of any comprehensive smart
growth agenda. This following are some of the more promising strategies:
1. Disperse Affordable Housing Throughout a
· Chicago: In a much-cited social experiment, the residents of the Gautreaux public housing project in Chicago were given the option to move to low-crime, predominantly white, middle-class housing, using vouchers. Their rate of social, personal and educational improvement was dramatic. Not only do the families involved benefit, the city proper can avoid the terrible costs of concentrated poverty
2. Inclusionary Housing Programs.
· Rockville, Maryland: Rockville, Maryland adopted an inclusionary ordinance in 1990 which requires all subdivisions of 50 or more dwellings units to include moderately priced units. Some of the provisions call for a) specified proportion of the proposed units must be moderately priced, with a sliding scale of optional density increases for a higher percentage of moderately-priced units, and b) an option for developer construction of such housing, including land transfers to public or semi-public housing agencies and contributions to a public housing trust fund.
3. Mixed-Use Zoning as a Way to Increase Affordable
· Hillsboro, Oregon: The city of Hillsboro is implementing a mix of uses in its four light-rail station communities by adopting 12 new zones applicable only to light-rail areas. Five zones are primarily residential; three are primarily commercial; two are primarily industrial; and two are applicable to large institutional areas specific to Hillsboro. Nine of the 12 zones allow a mix of residential and commercial uses, either within the same building or free-standing. Commercial uses in the residential zones are limited in the range of uses and square footage, with the intent to serve mainly the surrounding residents or pedestrian customers using light-rail.
4. Tax and Mortgage Policy Incentives.
· First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, Washington, D.C.: After a thirty year decline in population, the District of Columbia recently passed the $5,000 Homebuyer Credit Act to help replenish the city's population and, in turn, its taxpayer base. Unlike some other tax incentives, it applies to buyers in any D.C. neighborhood, not just economically distressed areas.
The act offers a $5,000 tax credit incentive to first-time District homebuyers. The credit applies to purchases completed from Aug. 5, 1997, until Dec. 31, 2000 and is for one-time use only. A single taxpayer with modified adjusted gross income of less than $70,000 is eligible for the entire $5,000 tax credit. The credit phases out between $70,000 and $90,000 in modified adjusted gross income. Joint filers are eligible for the entire credit with modified adjusted gross income of less than $110,000; the benefit phases out between $110,000 and $130,000. Unmarried taxpayers who purchase a residence jointly are allowed to split the credit.
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