City of Boise officials talk affordable housing plan as demand continues to increase

Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 19:06:10-05

BOISE, Idaho — Home prices in the Treasure Valley are at a record high and have been climbing for years. On top of short supply with increased demand — Idahoans are feeling the pressure of an expensive, and volatile market.

There has been an unprecedented amount of growth — as people started moving to the state from other states like Washington, Oregon and California.

Affordable housing is one of the top priorities for the City of Boise and officials hope this new five-year investment program will help provide reasonable housing costs for Boise residents.

“Were looking for any way that we can speed up that process and partner in the here and now to make sure that that housing can come online tomorrow and that that relief that folks need, cause they are cost burden can be delivered as quickly as possible,” City of Boise Community Development Senior Manager Maureen Brewer said.

Without releasing too many details, city officials say the Housing Investment Program will use a “flexible approach” to provide affordable housing.

“Many of the opportunities we see from this Housing Investment Program will be on land that we lease as a city because we own it and we can lease it to those who are proposing homes that match Boise budgets and match our goals as a community to get and to make sure everyone has access to a home they can afford,” Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said.

Similar to projects they have already started, like at Franklin and Orchard, the city’s goals over the next 5 years is to partner with developers to create 1,500 units that are affordable to households earning 60% of the area median income or below, and 250 units will be dedicated to “Our Path Home.” They are also looking to preserve 1,000 units at 80% area median income or below.

“We are going to prequalify development teams so that we then don’t have to start over every time we have a site that’s suitable for housing. What this mechanism allows us to do is by publishing an RFQ is have a set of developers ready to go that we know has the experience and that we know has to expertise,” Brewer said.

“Short answer is, short term, we need some affordable housing in this valley,” Real estate agent Clint Leech said. “Extremely long term, that’s not what needs to be working towards.”

Leech said the housing market in the Treasure Valley has been growing for years. He said about the middle of summer last year is when realtors started to see a slight correction with more inventory and houses sitting longer.

“The reason that prices have jumped as high as they have is, we don’t have any inventory and its very basic economic 101,” Leech said. “We have already priced out our citizens. We did that 3 or 4 years ago. You can do whatever you want to do, but the people are still going to come and the prices are still going up.”

Idaho’s minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009 and has not changed. According to RedFin, in December 2016 the median home price in Ada County was $245,000. As of December 2021, the median home price is $538,000.

While those moving into the state have played a part in the prices skyrocketing plus the lack of inventory, the state and the City of Boise hasn’t adjusted much to the growth.

“Boise has to get to a point, and really the whole state of Idaho in general has to get to a point where we start to adjust our policies, our wages, our things to simply adapt to what’s actually going on within the city,” Leech said.