Summit County commissioners plan to change income requirements on affordable housing developments to increase accessibility
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the area median income for a four-person household in 2022.
As Summit County looks to update its housing code, commissioners are pushing for more units at affordable prices.
The commissioners have been having ongoing discussions about housing code changes for weeks, but they have not made any final decisions. At a meeting on Tuesday, April 26, Commissioner Tamara Pogue said the goal is to incentivize developers to build units that let people grow in their careers without losing access to affordable housing.
Currently in Summit County, the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program has made housing like the Village at Wintergreen Apartments in Keystone available to people at the lowest end of the income spectrum.
Those apartments have income requirements, limiting units to households who earn 30-60% of the area median income, which amounts to a max of $62,820 for a four person household, according to the Summit Combined Housing Authority’s 2022 area median income report.
For people who make more than $63,000 but not enough to afford one of the county’s multi-million single-family homes, housing options are few and far between.
“What happens to you at that point?” Pogue said. “Because it’s not like there’s any market-rate rental that’s available — really, let’s be honest — given where our housing prices sit.”
To address the discrepancy, the county plans to change the code to include a higher area median income requirement for affordable housing developments.
Although they floated the idea of increasing the area median income limit to 120% at past meetings, the commissioners landed on increasing the cap to just 100% of the area median income.
That increase would mean households would have to make a combined income of less than $99,800 to qualify for affordable housing. At that income level, rentals would be priced at $2,357 for a two-bedroom unit, and two-bedroom units for sale would be $402,356.
Keeping the limit at 100% of the area median income would mean builders would have an easier time finding people to live in those units because the average person in Summit County only makes $50,596.
“As (area median incomes) go up, 120%, 130%, 140% rental rates are going to require a significantly higher salary, where there are not as many jobs within the workforce that are paying that salary to allow people to afford that,” said Jason Dietz, the county’s housing director.
The county also plans to include stipulations in the code that provide more flexibility so people don’t find themselves without viable options once they start receiving salary raises or advance in their career.
The commissioners were in favor of allowing developers to build units that are priced at up to 110% of the area median income, or $2,593 for a two-bedroom rental, as long as at least 50% of the units in the development are priced at or below 100% of the area median income, which is $2,357 for a two-bedroom.
While the commissioners have settled on a plan for the rental units, it’s a slightly different story for any properties for sale, which often require people to make more money to afford. The commissioners will be discussing the area median income requirements for these units more in-depth at later meetings.
The commissioners will have to make a final vote on the changes before they are reflected in the code.
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