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Mayor John Hamilton Announces Affordable Housing Initiatives

August 18, 2016

For more information, please contact:
Mary Catherine Carmichael, Communications Director, 812.349.3406,

Mayor John Hamilton Announces Affordable Housing Initiatives

Bloomington, Ind. - In a press conference today, Mayor John Hamilton announced a plan to increase affordable housing in Bloomington over the next twelve months, while the longer term adoption of the Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) and the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is in process. Mayor Hamilton described the efforts already in place and several new initiatives his administration promotes.

'Affordable housing' refers to housing serving those whose income is up to 130% of Bloomington's median range of $28,660 (adjusted for family size) and will encompass all types of housing from special needs to senior housing. The administration has made progress over the last eight months in enhancing housing opportunities for lower income and special needs residents, using already available tools such as tax abatements, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Tax Agreement), and the development review process.

Going forward in the short term the administration will emphasize experimentation and innovation with pilot approaches to increase affordable housing options within our community. The administration's strategy focuses on eight major areas:

Accessory Dwelling Units - Allow up to 20 ADUs (a smaller dwelling on the same grounds as a primary residence) as a pilot through amending the UDO. Limited to owner-occupied residences.

Tiny Houses - Typically between 80 and 400 square feet, tiny houses are affordable and have small footprints. The administration proposes a pilot project of allowing up to 15 tiny houses in specific zoning areas.

Inclusionary Zoning - The administration recommends incentivizing private developers of market-rate housing to either include affordable units in their project, provide affordable units elsewhere or provide monetary support for affordable units created by others.

Cooperative Housing - Membership-based housing allows members to pool their resources to leverage buying power. This approach is currently very limited by zoning restrictions, so the administration will request expanding the area in which co-ops are permitted.

Long Term Affordability Covenants - The administration supports legal requirements that will require certain properties to remain affordable for a specific length of time, from 50 years to permanently.

Housing Fund - The administration recommends establishing a new fund as a tool to receive funds intended to support affordable housing initiatives.

Incentives - Tax abatements, Enterprise Zone Investment Deductions and Tax Increment Financing are all tools available to encourage the inclusion of affordable housing in developments and redevelopments.

Collaborations - Housing and Neighborhood Development Director Doris Sims will convene a new Affordable Housing Task Force with the goal of bringing together nonprofit and for profit developers, realtors, financial institutions, landowners, housing providers and interested residents to gather and evaluate housing-related data and to make recommendations to inform current efforts and development of the UDO in 2017.

In the longer term, housing strategies will be incorporated in the CMP and the UDO, as they are discussed, reviewed, and voted on in the coming months. These documents are designed to steer the City's course for the built environment with a twenty-five year horizon, and will include specific goals, policies and programs for enhancing affordable housing supply. The goal is to make available to Bloomington residents at all income levels and abilities a menu of housing options to suit their needs whether they want to own their own homes or rent, while encouraging a sense of community, supporting urban density, and reducing our carbon footprint.

At the press conference, Mayor Hamilton said, "Affordable housing is a fundamental building block of a successful city. We want this wonderful place to work for people from all walks of life. We know we have some challenges with housing affordability and I'm planning that we try several innovative things to address those challenges and see what works best as we develop our longer term plans together."