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 is truly 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 dramatic growth brought by this success.
Beginning in February 2018, Mayor and Council conducted a series of strategic planning sessions to better understand the dynamics of housing in Boise to help guide the vision for housing and make the best use of the tools available to the city.
Boise's Housing Principles
A successful housing strategy is created from a shared set of core principles. Boise Mayor and City Council developed three pillars to guide Boise’s housing vision.
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...
Source: COMPASS Communities in Motion 2040 Plan, 2014: City of Boise 2015 Housing Needs Analysis
Grow Our Housing Goals
- Create great places: Compact, dynamic neighborhoods with walkable streets, high access to jobs, transit and a wide variety of businesses/services throughout our city.
- Provide a variety of choices: A balanced portfolio to ensure success for every demographic.
Grow Our Housing Strategies
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 individuals and families that are at or below 80% area median income (AMI).
The strategies outlined below are based on recommendations from Mayor, City Council and city planning staff. Community members have had several opportunities to provide input on the strategies via Community Conversations on Growth and online surveys. Updates to the strategies have been made based on the community’s feedback.
The proposed strategies include:
Strategy #1: Establish a Housing Land Trust
A land trust is a common way to acquire land and create permanent housing. It supports the development of a variety of housing types, allowing for homeownership and rental opportunities for income-restricted households.
The City of Boise is proposing the following criteria; however, this is not final and could change as we explore this tool further.
- Total investment: $20 million
- $10 million in public funding (cash or land contributions)
- $10 million in private/philanthropic funding (cash or land contributions)
- Total units: 50-1,000
- Land would remain an asset of the trust
Strategy #2: Align Public + Private Funding and Resources
This tool would allow the city to prioritize and maximize housing affordability in policy and investment throughout the city by leveraging existing and new partnerships.
- Potential Partners
- Capital City Development Corporation
- Urban Renewal Tax Increment Financing
- Participation Program
- Idaho Housing and Finance Association
- National Housing Trust Fund
- Low Income Housing Tax Credits
- Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority
- Section 8 Project-Based Investments
- Bond Financing
- City of Boise
- Energize Our Neighborhoods
- Community Development Block Program
- HOME Investment Partnerships Program
- Capital City Development Corporation
Through existing partnerships, the city has already made significant strides in housing affordability, examples include:
- Adare Manor
- New Path Community Housing
- Valor Pointe
Strategy #3: Expand the Housing Incentive Program
The Housing Incentive Program provides financial incentive to encourage private development of more affordable housing options. Initially, the program only applied to downtown Boise. The new proposal is to expand the program throughout the city and provide an incentive for affordable units only.
The expanded Housing Incentive Program would provide financial incentive for the creation of rental and homeownership housing affordable to 80%-or-below area median income households.
The goal is to have 500 units built by 2024.
Strategy #4: Maximize Land Use Allowances
This tool would allow the city to modify the standards in various sections of the zoning code to influence or incentivize housing and change zoning on specific properties to increase allowed density. There are several ways this can be accomplished:
- Modify accessory dwelling unit regulations
- Increase maximum size allowance to 700 square feet or 10 percent of the parcel size (currently limited to 600 square feet)
- Allow two-bedroom ADUs (currently limited to one bedroom)
- Clarifying that two-bedroom ADUs must have at least one dedicated parking space on-site or on an immediately adjacent street with no exceptions (current requirements of one parking space per ADU can be waived depending on individual situations)
- Decrease minimum lot size and increase maximum density in most common residential zones.
- R-1C: Reduce minimum lot size and increase density from 8 to 10 units/acre.
- R-2D: Reduce minimum lot size and increase density from 14 to 20 units per acre.
- Small footprint housing density bonus
- Grant 50% density bonus for small footprint housing developments in single-family residential zones (smaller than 700 sq. ft.).
- Eliminate conventional residential density allowances
- Base some residential density allowances on Floor Area Ratio rather than units/acre.
- New zoning classifications
- Create new mixed-use and other urban zones that emphasize higher residential densities.
The city is currently exploring the proposed tools further and refining the strategies for each. However, Boise City Council, on Tuesday, March 12, directed City of Boise staff members to draft ordinance language that eases requirements for accessory dwelling units or ADUs. The updated ordinance will come back to the council for formal adoption in coming weeks.
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Content updated: March 12, 2019
Published: September 12, 2018