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Developing and Implementing an Affordable Housing Strategy for Bloomington

Bloomington is a diverse community. Home to Indiana University, it is rich with cultural, educational and economic opportunities for its residents. The large and growing student population affects housing costs and availability, particularly with rental prices among the highest in the state and pressures on owner-occupied housing neighborhoods. Our City consequently faces challenges in its ability to provide a range of housing options for non-students, especially those at low and moderate income levels. Two recent studies calculate Bloomington's rental occupancy rates at 96% and 94.4% -- very high numbers. Based on unit prices for new housing being built in the downtown, the cost is as much as $1,000 -$1,200 for a 1-bedroom unit. The prices for single family housing are also high in relation to income. The average home cost in Indiana is $120,000; in Monroe County outside city limits the average is $141,000 and the average single family home within Bloomington corporate limits costs $156,000. Both of these affordability issues reflect market pressures; new supply and new approaches are advisable to help reduce the gaps in affordability.

'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 substantial progress over the last few years 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.

In the longer term, housing strategies will be incorporated in the Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) and the Unified Development Ordinance (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.

2016 Initial Strategy Document

Focus areas, past effort documentation, and an initial 2016 affordable strategy plan were developed by City Administration.  Read the original strategy here.

2018 Strategy Update

In 2018, the City's affordable housing strategy was updated to account for past efforts and adjustments moving forward.  Read the update here.  Additional updates will be issued on a regular basis.

Housing Development Fund

The 2016 strategy included piloting of a new Housing Development Fund designed to ensure feasibility of affordable housing projects.  This Fund now includes a formal application and guidelines for consideration.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  Though a dedicated revenue source has yet to be secured, significant contributions on several occasions have allowed for the moving forward of multiple community projects such as putting the City's first "workforce housing" units online in downtown Bloomington.