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Grow Our Housing


Over the last several years Boise has seen tremendous vitality, with low unemployment, increased opportunity, and a growing national realization that Boise truly is becoming one of the most livable cities in the country. Boise's challenge is how to maintain the city's high livability in the face of the dramatic growth brought by this success. 

A tight market is pressuring our ability to choose where we want to live. But unlike other cities that have fallen victim to overwhelming housing shortages, Boise has an opportunity to sustain our livability and guide future growth. After recently completing a series of robust community conversations, housing affordability emerged as a top concern.

Boise's Housing Principles

A successful housing strategy is created from a shared set of core principles. The Mayor and team have developed the following three pillars:


A healthy housing ecosystem includes homes across all income ranges. By committing to a balanced approach, Boise can take steps to fill gaps unmet by the private market and ensure that our most vulnerable communities and our active workforce have achievable housing options for themselves and their families.


Boise's high livability will continue only by maintaining its vibrant, walkable neighborhoods. By embracing density and limiting the expansion of the city's service area, Boise can make housing more affordable, maintain its authentic neighborhood fabric, and ensure Boise's long-term sustainability.


A plan with unreachable goals serves no one. With limited resources at the city's disposal, its vision must be practical and achievable.

 Over the next 20 years...

Boise will grow by 50,000 new residents

Boise will need 20,000 new living units

Boise will need 1,000 living units per year

Source: COMPASS Communities in Motion 2040 Plan, 2014: City of Boise 2015 Housing Needs Analysis

Boise's Housing Strategies and Goals

The city conservatively estimates that our community will need to develop 1,000 units annually for the next 20 years. Of those 1,000 units, 350 will need to accommodate those individuals and families that are at or below 80% area median income base (AMI). 350 units per year serving those at-or-below 80% median income based on current demographics. 

In his 2018 State of the City address, Mayor David Bieter outlined the strategies that he is proposing to address our community’s housing needs. These housing strategies, outlined below, will be presented to the City Council at the council’s Strategic Planning Session on Tuesday, September 25 at City Hall. The public will have multiple opportunities to provide input on the strategies in the coming months.

The proposed strategies are:


Strategy #1: Establish a Housing Land Trust

The proposed $20 million housing land trust, secured through $10 million in public funding and $10 million in philanthropy, would facilitate housing affordability in perpetuity by acquiring land in strategic locations for housing development. The trust would target the development of multi-family housing for income-restricted households, but could also be used to purchase land for homeownership opportunities.


Strategy #2: Implement Citywide Housing Incentive Program for Those Earning At-Or-Below 80% of the Average Median Income

Expand the city’s successful Downtown Housing Incentive Program throughout the city. The program would provide a financial incentive for the creation of rental and homeownership housing affordable to 80%-or-below median income households.

Predefined criteria could include: 

  • Location: Within one mile of public transportation or along a transportation corridor; near shopping, health facilities, recreation and employment opportunities
  • Design: Consistent with market-rate housing
  • Integration: Mixed-use, mixed-income when possible

Strategy #3: Leverage Landholdings

Utilize public and private land as a catalyst to create and attract additional private and public investment. Key land parcels can produce mixed-use, mixed-income projects intended to provide long-term affordability, contribute equity and/or be utilized as part of a land exchange to assist in assembling one or more parcels of land for development. Adare Manor, currently under construction, is a successful example of using city-owned property to incentivize new construction. Centrally located on Fairview and 25th, Adare Manor will provide 134 housing units affordable to all incomes. The development offers ease-of-access to public transportation, services, employment, education and recreation.


Strategy #4: Maximize Land Use Allowances

Change the standards in various sections of the zoning code to influence or incentivize housing and modify zoning on specific properties to increase density. Examples of how this could be accomplished:

  • Increase residential density in activity centers
  • Create new mixed-use and other urban zones that emphasize higher residential densities.
  • Decrease minimum lot sizes and increase maximum density in most common residential zones
  • Eliminate conventional residential density allowances
  • Eliminate owner/occupant requirement and on-site parking for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s)

Strategy #5: Align Resources/Target Funding

Prioritize and maximize housing affordability in policy and investment throughout the city by leveraging existing and new partnerships.

Potential Partners

  • Urban Renewal Districts - Tax Increment Financing
    • Capital City Development Corporation
  • National Housing Trust Fund, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits
    • Idaho Housing and Finance Association
    • Section 8 Project-Based Assistance - Bonds
    • Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority
  • City of Boise
    • Energize Our Neighborhoods
    • Community Development Block Grant/HOME Investment Partnerships Program
    • Continuum of Care
    • Increase integration and use of assets

Next Steps

These housing strategies, will be presented to the City Council at the council’s Strategic Planning Session on Tuesday, September 25 at City Hall. The public will have multiple opportunities to provide input on the strategies in the coming months.

Sign up for the City of Boise’s In the Know newsletter which will contain Grow Our Housing updates and opportunities for input.

Other Materials

Boise's Available Tools | City Council Housing Strategy Workbook | May 22, 2018

Published: September 12, 2018