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Village Council

Village Council focus on housing

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Possible strategies for addressing housing needs in Yellow Springs include:

• Use public land.

• Reach out to and collaborate with developers and landowners of large parcels to determine what type of support and incentives the Village could provide that would be effective for encouraging mixed-income developments on private land within the village.

• Promote recent zoning changes and consider new zoning incentives to encourage infill development by individual property owners.

• Work with for-profit and nonprofit developers to seek funding sources for developments that the market alone can’t provide, such as Low Income Tax Credit Housing.

• Create a local revenue source, such as a Housing Trust Fund, to support moderate and low-income housing development.

• Develop mechanisms to provide direct financial and technical assistance to individual buyers, renters and homeowners for new builds and/or rehab/reuse in the form of direct grants or low-interest loans.

• Utilize Home Inc. as our local nonprofit housing developer and consultant.

• Develop support for the use of Section 8 vouchers in the village.

• Support and promote alternative housing options ranging from mobile homes to co-housing, to home sharing strategies.

• Consider extending Village borders if and when compelling opportunities arise.

Bike town event

Villagers are invited to celebrate Yellow Springs recently being named a Bicycle Friendly Community at two events on Wednesday, June 27. At 6 p.m., a ribbon cutting will take place at the Train Station. At 7 p.m., everyone is invited to join in the unveiling of a draft document from the Active Transportation Committee, with opportunities to give feedback. That event takes
place at Rooms A and B at the John Bryan Center.

The above are only potential strategies, and no specific strategies have been chosen, Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen emphasized at Council’s June 18 meeting. The strategies are part of a 7-part process developed by the citizen Housing Advisory Board, or HAB, as a way to move forward on the housing issue. MacQueen, Council liaison to the HAB, presented the process to Council for approval at Council’s June 18 meeting, Council members informally expressed support for the process.

Council has identified addressing local housing needs as a priority, and the discussion was a continuation of an earlier  conversation on the topic.

  ”Housing is a basic need for both the family and the community,” MacQueen said at the meeting. “We’re in a housing crisis.”

Many American municipalities are in a housing crisis, MacQueen went on to say, although the reasons for the crises may differ. In many cities, the crisis involves a large number of foreclosed houses. In communities deemed especially desirable such as Yellow Springs, the crisis is most often around a lack of affordable housing.

The recent Housing Needs Assessment showed that the local cost of rentals is in line with those of the surrounding area, while the cost of homes for sale is “way out of range” compared to those in surrounding communities, according to Council member Judith Hempfling.

For example, she said, the median home price in the area is $88,000, while in Yellow Springs, the median price is $188,000.

The village has about 1,200 owner-occupied homes and “none of it is affordable,” Hempfling said.

According to MacQueen, municipal governments have been reluctant in the past to address housing needs, putting far more energy into promoting efforts such as economic development. And when government does take action to address housing, it most often works in favor of high-income rather than low-income residents, Hempfling said.

However, in Yellow Springs, Council is moving forward on the housing topic, with an eye toward developing more affordable housing. 

That effort began last fall when Council contracted with Bowen National Research to conduct the housing assessment. The assessment concluded that, while Yellow Springs lacks housing in all income group categories, it especially lacks affordable housing. 

Shortly after the assessment, the Housing Working Group was formed. Members are MacQueen, Village Manager Patti Bates, Chamber of Commerce President Karen Wintrow, Liz Voight and Kevin McGruder.

That group has suggested the seven-step process.

The steps include, first, gathering information, which has largely taken place since the Housing Needs Assessment has been completed, MacQueen said. Second is to identify and assess potential resources.

The third step is to develop a simple vision and policy statement. According to a written report from the HAB. The statement would cover “… what we want and how we envision housing in the Village to support the community.”

MacQueen presented a sample vision and policy statement to Council at the meeting, as recommended by the HAB:

(Vision) “Yellow Springs has a housing stock that enables a diverse community to live and work here.”

(Policy) “The Yellow Springs Village Government, with community members, is committed to being a welcoming community which is environmentally and economically sustainable. This requires housing that enables people of diverse ages, races, ethnicities, incomes, skills and life styles to be able to afford to live here. We aim for a balanced population across the age spectrum, valuing seniors as well as children and those in between; single people as well as families. We understand that each villager contributes to the wholeness and health of the community and are particularly committed to those struggling to remain in Yellow Springs because of affordability challenges. We also welcome newcomers wishing to move to our community. We encourage housing and workplaces that allow Villagers to live and work here. We recognize that, while homeownership is a goal for many, there are many others for whom renting is the best option and we seek a balance of both. Mixed income housing and increased density in all new development will be essential to reach our goals of promoting affordability and healthy neighborhoods.”

In response, Council members expressed overall approval, with some requests for more specificity. Council member Lisa Kreeger and MacQueen will work on the statements before bringing them back to Council for official approval.

The fourth step of the process would involve developing five- to 10-year housing goals.

“We need to grapple with the amount and types of housing we want over a particular period of time,” the HAB document states. “While we have only partial control over this, we are more likely to get what we want if we have done the difficult work of deciding what that is…”

Step five of the process is developing strategies toward reaching the housing goals, as noted above. Step six is to develop a Housing Initiative Plan, and step seven is to begin implementing strategies.

MacQueen will return to Council soon with a revised vision and policy statement.

Other items from Council’s June 18th meeting will be covered in next week’s News, including a discussion of a proposed Designated Community Improvement Corporation, or DCIC.

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One Response to “Village Council focus on housing”

  1. Lindy Sexton says:

    Cohousing seems like it would be a great option for Yellow Springs and I’d be happy to work with those who are interested in cohousing to get it off the ground. I work with McCamant & Durrett Architects, who has worked with groups across the U.S. and Canada, successfully designing over 50 cohousing communities to date.

    Please call me at 507-272-1495 and I’ll set you up with an interview with Charles Durrett (Principal Architect) and talk to you about next steps.



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