Note: This op-ed is part of a series on affordable housing.
Access to readily available affordable housing is an issue across the country. Millions of Americans are spending more than 30% of their incomes on housing; hardest hit are those in the lowest income brackets. The situation in Rochester is no different, evidenced by the stories told at a recent meeting organized by C.U.R.E.
What can be done about it? There is no one silver bullet, but here are five strategies to consider:
Changes to zoning, permitting, and building standards that allow for more modest dwelling options such as micro-apartments, Tiny Houses, and smaller lot sizes, while decreasing the burden of permits and regulation.
Improved transportation systems the enable more people to get by without car ownership. According to the AAA, it costs nearly $9,000 to own, maintain, insure, park, and fuel a car. A robust transportation system of buses, transit, ride sharing, car sharing, and safe bike and pedestrian ways would make it easier for people to get by without the burden of owning a vehicle.
Attracting more high wage industries coupled with job training will help grow the wealth of the community and create an upward path for current low wage earners.
Increasing the overall amount of housing stock will help reduce the rent pricing pressure we are now experiencing in a market with less than 5% vacancy.
Judicious use of incentives aimed at increasing supply of affordably priced housing units, drawing on a combination of federal and local programs.
Already Rochester is deploying many of these efforts. We ought to grade ourselves on each and make improvements where possible.
Patrick Seeb is the Director for Economic Development and Placemaking for the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency.