Tax idea puts housing in play |

Tax idea puts housing in play

A housing consultant is recommending to local government officials that if they are serious about building affordable housing, the Summit Housing Authority needs a dedicated tax.

But local officials already knew that, because last November, with the blessing of most local elected officials, a housing sales tax was put on the ballot.

It would only have raised about $400,000 to keep the Summit Housing Authority’s doors open and current programs running, such as classes for first-time homebuyers, down payment assistant programs and deed-restriction monitoring.

Two schools of thought exist on why the tax failed. One is that it wasn’t enough to do anything, and developers got off easy by not proposing a small impact fee. The other is that people were solicited in a tax-weary, slow economic period. Both theories are probably right.

The question remains whether local officials can rally themselves to try again so a means exists to create affordable housing – preferably for-sale, single-family townhouses and stand-alone units for people in the 80 to 120 percent range of the Area Median Income table.

The recommended sales tax is about .05 percent, enough to raise about $4 million a year. Right now, it’s just a talking point sure to spur solutions – or a busting up of the housing authority.

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