By BROOKE WANSER
Housing commission members have concerns about defining limits to an incentive program for affordable housing in Franklin.
At a regularly scheduled housing commission meeting on Thursday morning, members discussed a program that would remove the cost of mandatory development fees for developers of affordable homes.
Road impact and parkland development fees can get costly, said director of building and neighborhood services Chris Bridgewater.
Assistant City Administrator Vernon Gerth said if a developer built 100 units, but only 50 were deemed “affordable,” per the state’s statistical housing guidelines, only those units would be subsidized.
Criteria on a memorandum to be presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen include the following points:
- Developments that provide the opportunity to transition renters into an owner-occupied home.
- The dwelling(s) shall meet the standard for affordability as defined by the Metropolitan Statistical Area guidelines.
- The affordability will be assured for a minimum of 30 years through deed restrictions or other methods.
- Applicants must demonstrate financial viability.
- Type of financing used by the developer, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Multifamily Tax Exempt Bond Authority, HOME program, and Housing Trust Fund.
To qualify for affordable housing, families must meet a standard of no more than than 80 percent of the Greater Nashville Average Median Household Income. That income level is capped at $41,950 for a single individual, and at $59,900 for a family of four.
Affordability would be ensured for a minimum of 30 years using deed restriction. Once a project is vested, the developer is eligible for funds for three years, said Gerth.
The commission wants the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to earmark up to $1 million each year for the incentive program.
Some commission members expressed a desire to level the field so every applicant is treated the same.
Concerns remain among the commission, like the number of people moving into an affordable home. “That seems impossible to police,” said Alderman Dana McLendon.
Setting the price of housing and determining other standards could also prove tricky.
“We always have to vet income. I’m more interested in getting the price of the house right than policing the number of occupants,” McLendon added.
But the purpose of the document, said developer Stephen Murray, is only to serve as a guideline for who could qualify for affordable housing.
“Who do you want to serve? If you’re not limiting who you’re serving, why are you here?” Murray asked. “If you’re going to let a millionaire buy this unit, and if he’s subsidized, then why are you here?”
Gerth said the commission needed to work on allaying McLendon’s concerns; as the representative for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, his ability to explain the program could make or break its passage.
“We always want to try to put the board and mayor and aldermen in a position to make a decision that serves the community and is an easy decision for them,” Gerth said.
The next housing commission will be on Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 a.m.