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It’s the Final Countdown for our Housing Rules

The Town & County are updating the rules for both housing mitigation requirements (how much affordable housing developers have to include in their projects) and housing rules & regs (who gets to live in our affordable homes, and what strings are attached). These are part of their “Engage2017” work and there’s a ton of info on their website.
 
Town & county elected representatives met last week and gave preliminary direction on how they want to address all the important topics in these two projects. We are extremely encouraged by their decisions on some of our “top 6 priorities” that we listed below. Please thank them for taking steps in the right direction, especially for agreeing to stop asking renters for immigration documentation.
 
The town & county have one more joint meeting next Monday November 13 to finalize their policy direction for both topics. We hope to see you there! If you can’t make it in person, email our representatives ahead of time – council@townofjackson.com and commissioners@tetonwyo.org.

 

OUR TOP PRIORITIES (in short form)

  • Mitigation: instead of the current complicated proposal that leaves out seasonal employees, please use a simpler setup: “developers should mitigate for 65% of all employees – both year-round AND seasonal – and re-do the Nexus Study so we have up-to-date data.” And, please require 1-for-1 replacement of all workforce units destroyed by redevelopment.
  • Rules & regs: thanks for moving away from asking renters for immigration documents!

 

MORE DETAIL…

Housing rules & regs: overall, simplify the rules, and don’t discriminate either intentionally or unintentionally against most vulnerable community members.

  1. Don’t discriminate against renters based on immigration status. The comprehensive plan calls for housing 65% of all local workers, not just documented workers. Unlike with employment, no law requires asking about documentation for housing – it’s just a policy decision, and one that is currently excluding a large number of our community members who have lived here for decades, work hard, and pay taxes. Please remove immigration status from your rental criteria. (Policy Question 1.) >>> Almost all our representatives agreed with this – please thank them!
  2. Owners should be able to rent rooms to other local workers. For employment-based homes without income restrictions, there is no reason to prohibit roommates. And if roommates do not push an income-limited owner over the income limit, that should be allowed too. Ultimately, allowing roommates who also work here further helps house our workforce. (Policy Question 9.) >>> Our representatives asked staff to bring more info back on Monday. Keep asking for this!
  3. Simplify the lottery process by entirely removing preferences and points. The current system is complex and also gives extra weight to people who have the ability to volunteer – excluding service workers forced to work multiple jobs just to provide for their families. (Policy Question 10.) >>> Our representatives may change the system but still need to hear from more people that our housing should be available for all our workers in an open and fair lottery – not based on an idea of “earning” our way in.

Housing mitigation / requirements: overall: simplify the program and fully mitigate for 65% of new employee generation

  1. Our housing mitigation program should generate enough units to actually *keep up* with new jobs created, and house 65% of our new employees. This will likely mean increasing mitigation rates, as well as applying them for both year-round and seasonal jobs, for all jobs paying below 200% area median income, and on commercial and residential projects. >>> The new proposal may do a better job “keeping up” with job growth, but it’s hard to know because there’s no math showing how it connects to our 65% community goal. We strongly recommend a simpler system that includes both year-round and seasonal employees and requires developers mitigate for 65% of all full-time equivalent employees (FTEs).
  2. Simplify the program by reducing the number of use categories and removing the change-of-use fee – instead, just charge an averaged rate initially. >>> This helps make the previous point work better.
  3. Require 1-for-1 replacement of any existing units lost to redevelopment. In addition to “keeping up” with the new development, we also need to replace affordable/workforce units that are bulldozed before that new development is built – and we should require these be replaced 1-for-1. Otherwise, we’re just digging our hole deeper. >>> Our elected representatives are considering this idea, but need to hear more support from all of us!

 

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