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https://www.facebook.com/cityofbloomington/videos/10155369551621008/Doris Sims
Director
Housing and Neighborhood Development Department
simsd@bloomington.in.gov
812-349-3594;

Terri Porter, Director
Planning and Transportation Department
porteti@bloomington.in.gov
812-349-3459; or

Alex Crowley
Director 
Economic and Sustainable Development Department
crowleya@bloomington.in.gov
812-349-3477
 

City Task Force Shares Progress Toward Expanding Affordability


Bloomington, Ind. - In a Town Hall conversation on Facebook Live Thursday at noon, Mayor John Hamilton and members of his administration leading efforts to expand affordable housing discussed initiatives that have increased affordable housing in Bloomington over the last two years, and outlined current and planned efforts to further expand affordability in Bloomington.

Reporting on progress in the past two years implementing the Affordable Housing Strategy announced in 2016, the administration highlighted more than 400 bedrooms of affordable housing for low-income residents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, including Evergreen Village, Crawford II, Pedcor, Urban Station, Park South, and Adams Village, and Union at Crescent, a large development slated to break ground in late 2018.  The 422 affordable bedrooms represent 15% of the 2,800 total bedrooms built or approved in the last two years in Bloomington.    

Beyond these raw numbers, a number of pilot programs have been launched as part of the 2016 Affordable Housing Strategy. Each has supported innovation in affordable housing in the city:
 

  • Accessory Dwelling Units are now allowed in the city, and four have been approved.

  • Cooperative Housing (such as Middle Earth) and Pocket Neighborhoods (including Bloomington Cohousing) are in development with new legal authority.

  • Sub-area plans, enhancing the recently adopted Comprehensive Master Plan, are in development to identify new affordable housing opportunities in high-impact areas of the city.

  • The downtown overlay was modified in 2017 to limit by-right developments that focused exclusively on delivering units at the highest rental tier.   

 

Looking forward, the mayor and his team outlined several current and new efforts:

The City plans to invest approximately $6 million in local funds during 2018 and 2019 to support additional affordable housing, from sources including the Housing Development Fund (HDF) and Tax Increment Financing (TIF), leveraged by the CDFI Friendly City effort. This funding, in addition to approximately $1.5 million in local funds invested via the HDF, is an unprecedented local investment in affordable housing. These local funds significantly expand the impact of federal funds presently received and invested by the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department (HAND), the Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA), and by developers via the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

In addition, the Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA) announced a strategy to accelerate $12 million of sorely needed investments to upgrade 312 units of public housing in the city in five years rather than 25 years. By pursuing the federally funded Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD), BHA seeks to secure financing through tax credits and private investment to rehabilitate aging housing units on a five-year schedule.  These improvements will significantly improve quality of life for hundreds of current and future residents at the Crestmont, Reverend Butler and Walnut Woods communities. BHA also has recently adopted a new strategic plan outlining additional steps to improve affordable housing in our community, accessible in the report Housing Forward 2018-2030, available at www.bhaindiana.net.

The City also plans to partner in coming months with the nonprofit Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) component of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and others to conduct a detailed study and examination of affordable housing data and challenges for Bloomington, in connection with a larger study of housing and economic activity in the wider region. This study will help public, nonprofit, and private entities collaborate to address affordable housing challenges in our community.

The City is also actively pursuing an unprecedented combination of opportunities to support affordable housing in a constellation of city-controlled properties across Bloomington, from the current IU Health Bloomington Hospital site (to be acquired in 2021), to land adjacent to the new Switchyard Park, and near the Trades District, just northwest of the city center. In addition, a vision plan is in development for the several-hundred-acre site in the southwestern section of the city that includes Sudbury Farms.  The City’s vision is that the area -- a combination of public and private lands that is one of the largest undeveloped tracts within the city -- be developed in ways that enhance overall quality of life, and support significant new affordable housing options for community residents. Major updates to two governing documents will illustrate the City’s desire to work with property owners to secure long-term affordability: the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, which replaced the 2002 Growth Policies Plan (GPP), and the Unified Development Ordinance, which, when approved, will codify and activate the Comprehensive Plan and the City’s commitment to long-term affordable housing options throughout the city.

Presenting financial advantages to prospective developers has been another effective way to encourage the addition of housing stock that is accessible to a broader range of residents. The City has actively pursued opportunities to incentivize affordable housing among market rate developments through structures such as tax abatement, reduced land costs, and project-based vouchers, and using sources including the HDF, TIF, and the federally funded HOME Investment Partnership Program. Other sources and mechanisms for funding that have led to the construction of non-market-rate housing in Bloomington include leveraging local incentives to attract state-administered Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects and leveraging CDFI interest in the Bloomington market to facilitate new projects.

Joining Mayor Hamilton for the Town Hall discussion streamed live at 12:00 EDT and archived on Facebook are the members of the City's Affordable Housing Task Force: Doris Sims, Director of Housing and Neighborhood Development;  Terri Porter, Director of Planning and Transportation; Alex Crowley, Director of Economic and Sustainable Development; and Amber Skoby, Director of the Bloomington Housing Authority.
 

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