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Why no new Low-Income Housing?

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If I remember correctly, in the 2025 plan it was recommended that lower-income housing be encouraged in the downtown areas. All I have seen are the large expensive condos going in and no low-income ones. We have that beautiful eye-sore a few blocks off Dickson and then nothing. As ugly as they are, I think they are essential to a downtown and we have none (at least that I know of.) I know the big one in downtown is Government run but there should still be a profitable means for a private developer to do something.

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I don't know if there is much of a profitable way for a developer to do it right now. Construction costs have skyrocketed. I imagine something will eventually be done. I'm not sure if it's easier for bigger cities to get things like this done or if it's a lack of enthusiasm from local developers that are holding things back at the moment. I admit I don't know how exactly these things work. One problem I've always wondered about is how to keep people from buying these low income housing cheaply then simply rent them out and sell them at a higher price to simply profit from it themselves. But speaking about the City Plan 2025, we're already seen lots of problems with that. Despite all the idea talked about in those meetings it seems like actually getting those things accomplished is another matter. In a lot of cases it seems like everyone likes these ideas, until it happens 'in their backyards'.

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With the price of land downtown being what it is I don't see any lower-income housing being built there unless it it government sponsored. In our free market economy developers will build what they think they can sell and usually go for the highest return on investment that they can get. The city government doesn't have a way to force them to build lower income housing and I don't know that they have done anything to encourage it. There were developers trying to buy Hillcrest Towers and move the residents there to new housing away from the downtown area so they could redevelop that building. Thankfully that didn't happen. I certainly agree with you that a mix of income types downtown is needed and makes a better community.

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With the price of land downtown being what it is I don't see any lower-income housing being built there unless it it government sponsored. In our free market economy developers will build what they think they can sell and usually go for the highest return on investment that they can get. The city government doesn't have a way to force them to build lower income housing and I don't know that they have done anything to encourage it. There were developers trying to buy Hillcrest Towers and move the residents there to new housing away from the downtown area so they could redevelop that building. Thankfully that didn't happen. I certainly agree with you that a mix of income types downtown is needed and makes a better community.

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There IS the Habitat for Humanity neighborhood SE of downtown if I remember correctly. Not sure how many units they are building, but they are freestanding homes and cost subsidized.

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Low-income housing isn't built, it's converted from older buildings that noone with money wants to live in anymore. Before using the excuse that it's not cost effective for developers to build low-income housing people should look at the old buildings around town that are good for conversion to low-income housing. The only problem is developers and city officials alike would rather turn those old buildings into condos or hotels because profit is better than non-profit. That's just the way things are.

BTW... Habitat For Humanity is a lottery for low-income people to become homeowners. Less than 1 out of ten thousand low-income people actually benefit from HFH. It does nothing to help with the need for low-income housing.

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Low-income housing isn't built, it's converted from older buildings that noone with money wants to live in anymore. Before using the excuse that it's not cost effective for developers to build low-income housing people should look at the old buildings around town that are good for conversion to low-income housing. The only problem is developers and city officials alike would rather turn those old buildings into condos or hotels because profit is better than non-profit. That's just the way things are.

BTW... Habitat For Humanity is a lottery for low-income people to become homeowners. Less than 1 out of ten thousand low-income people actually benefit from HFH. It does nothing to help with the need for low-income housing.

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Yep, taking an old building in downtown and converting it to low-income housing is a tough decision to make, especially when the building would make such a sweet condo redevelopment or just demolish it and erect a high priced hotel.

I definitely agree that Habitat for Humanity is beneficial to the lucky few whose dreams have come true. It sure beats living like one of the thousand homeless people in Fayetteville's woods or lucky enough to not be turned away from the Seven Hills Homeless Shelter due to overcrowding. Still better than one of the thousands of homeless people staying with friends or family members because they don't make enough to afford even the slummiest "moderate income" apartment complex in the area.

The sad fact is that no matter what structure is on a plot of land in downtown Fayetteville it is a pricey piece of property. I looked at buying a old 1,000 sq ft house south of downtown a while back and it was priced as much as a nice 2,000 sq ft brand new house in the outer part of town was. It's not like larger cities such as NYC that have areas that need redeveloping that can be done at market prices. The central section of Fayetteville is hot property for any type of developing.

Ask any beneficiary of Habitat for Humanity if it didn't help them. It is a great program that helps many who help themselves.

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Low-income housing isn't built, it's converted from older buildings that noone with money wants to live in anymore. Before using the excuse that it's not cost effective for developers to build low-income housing people should look at the old buildings around town that are good for conversion to low-income housing. The only problem is developers and city officials alike would rather turn those old buildings into condos or hotels because profit is better than non-profit. That's just the way things are.

BTW... Habitat For Humanity is a lottery for low-income people to become homeowners. Less than 1 out of ten thousand low-income people actually benefit from HFH. It does nothing to help with the need for low-income housing.

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Yep, taking an old building in downtown and converting it to low-income housing is a tough decision to make, especially when the building would make such a sweet condo redevelopment or just demolish it and erect a high priced hotel.

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Do you actually know of any low-income housing that was built in the last 30 years? I don't and I've lived in many of the big cities that have an abundance of low-income housing. In my experience the only low-income housing is converted from dilapidated apartment buildings or old hospitals. So your explanation simply proves that noone cares to build low-income housing even if it costs less to build new than to convert from the old.

Plenty of low-income housing IS built. And who converts those old buildings? Developers. The bottom line is you cannot afford to buy an old building in Fayetteville and convert it to low income housing without subsidies. It costs more to convert old to useable than it does to build something new. There are plenty of tax incentives, low interest loans, and grants that are provided in some cities to do this.

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I do know of many of these projects in the Boston area where I lived for 17 years. I wrote about this before--the developers in each of these cases wanted to build condos where multi-family was not zoned, or higher density single family than what zoning allowed. The cities in these cases let the developer do this IF they put in a certain number of affordable housing units. In the case of the subdivision, the houses sold for $600-$800K. The affordable units were $100-104K. There was a lottery to see who got them. Preference given to single mothers.

The condos were selling in the $250-$400K range, and the affordable units were $100K. In both of these two developments I am mentioning, they were in two different towns and I am friends with people who bought and still live in the affordable units. Everyone wins in these deals--the developer, the town, and the people who could not afford to buy any other way. Again, tho, the land is very costly--moreso than here--and harder to build on--so developers have to do things like this if they want to develop anything. And as far as people profiting from the resale of these units, that is restricted somehow in their deeds. They have to go to the next person on the list at very little or no profit. That keeps an affordable unit affordable.

M

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I do know of many of these projects in the Boston area where I lived for 17 years. I wrote about this before--the developers in each of these cases wanted to build condos where multi-family was not zoned, or higher density single family than what zoning allowed. The cities in these cases let the developer do this IF they put in a certain number of affordable housing units. In the case of the subdivision, the houses sold for $600-$800K. The affordable units were $100-104K. There was a lottery to see who got them. Preference given to single mothers.

The condos were selling in the $250-$400K range, and the affordable units were $100K. In both of these two developments I am mentioning, they were in two different towns and I am friends with people who bought and still live in the affordable units. Everyone wins in these deals--the developer, the town, and the people who could not afford to buy any other way. Again, tho, the land is very costly--moreso than here--and harder to build on--so developers have to do things like this if they want to develop anything. And as far as people profiting from the resale of these units, that is restricted somehow in their deeds. They have to go to the next person on the list at very little or no profit. That keeps an affordable unit affordable.

M

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I'm curious about how that works- it seems if there is a mandated lower price per unit for a part of a developement like that does it have the net effect of raising the price for the units not under that mandate? I would think that whoever is financing a development knows what rate of return they need on their investment regardless of how it spent for construction. If some units have to sold at a lower price it would seem that the others would have to be sold at a higher price than necessary in order to make up the difference. Probably the lower cost units wouldn't be as large or as nice but that wouldn't make up the difference I would guess. Of course, I may be simplifying it a way too much and have no idea what I'm talking about. ;)

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Availability of affordable housing is based on the AMI (Area Median Income) for the given MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). If NWA has an AMI of $53100 then the average housing cost for the metro should be between $1328 and $1770 per month. This total includes taxes and insurance and sometimes includes utilities. That would be considered affordable housing for the area based on the AMI.

Now, based on that same criteria, low-income (50-80% of AMI or $26550-$42480) housing costs for the metro should be between $664 and $1416 per month. Notice that low income housing can actually be as expensive as average-income housing? Based on this information, there is plenty of housing in NWA that falls under low-income guidelines.

Now here comes the kicker. Very low-income housing, which consists of a large percentage of NWA's population. Very-low income (below 50% of AMI or $13000-$26550) housing costs for the metro should be between $325 and $885 per month. Currently, the cheapest apartment in Lindseyland is $345 per month for a 1 bedroom. A family with 1 or 2 children of the same sex will get the cheapest Lindsey apartment for $405 per month. Families with a son and a daughter are out of luck because Lindsey forbids children of the opposite sex from sharing the same room.

Now, I personally don't know anyone making minimum wage, which will go up to $6.55 from $6.25 this July and then up to $7.25 in 2009. Everybody look for inflated prices for housing, utilities and groceries when that happens! I do know a lot of people making between $8.00 and $10.00 per hour which neatly places them within the very low-income category. These are the people that are most in need of affordable housing in NWA.

I do know of many of these projects in the Boston area where I lived for 17 years. I wrote about this before--the developers in each of these cases wanted to build condos where multi-family was not zoned, or higher density single family than what zoning allowed. The cities in these cases let the developer do this IF they put in a certain number of affordable housing units. In the case of the subdivision, the houses sold for $600-$800K. The affordable units were $100-104K. There was a lottery to see who got them. Preference given to single mothers.

The condos were selling in the $250-$400K range, and the affordable units were $100K. In both of these two developments I am mentioning, they were in two different towns and I am friends with people who bought and still live in the affordable units. Everyone wins in these deals--the developer, the town, and the people who could not afford to buy any other way. Again, tho, the land is very costly--moreso than here--and harder to build on--so developers have to do things like this if they want to develop anything. And as far as people profiting from the resale of these units, that is restricted somehow in their deeds. They have to go to the next person on the list at very little or no profit. That keeps an affordable unit affordable.

M

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I am in the process of signing a lease for a house that will come to about $275 per room before utilities and all... This may not sound like much but I only make $300-$400 a month. Of course this is because I am in school but still. There are a lot of poor people in NWA and a very high need for very low income housing in the downtown area. I personally don't think our housing authority does anything exept manage properties, not increase the number of them. The government has the ability to not charge property taxes on certain areas or even refund the local taxes that incure from purchases on building supplies, but no that would be to benificial and cost to much upfront... O well....

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I'm not sure about your situation, but I do know people who are unable to work full-time (disabled, elderly) can apply for Section 8 housing and pretty much all Lindsey rent-controlled apartment complexes comply with Section 8. I don't know if students are eligable, but if you're not someone else's dependant then I don't see why not. Have you contacted your local housing authority to apply for Section 8 or rental assistance? There may be a waiting list for Section 8, but I know Lindsey always has available apartments that fall under the Section 8 program.

Fayetteville Housing Authority

Phone: (479)521-3850

Fax: (479)442-6771

#1 N. School Ave., Fayetteville AR 72701

I am in the process of signing a lease for a house that will come to about $275 per room before utilities and all... This may not sound like much but I only make $300-$400 a month. Of course this is because I am in school but still. There are a lot of poor people in NWA and a very high need for very low income housing in the downtown area. I personally don't think our housing authority does anything exept manage properties, not increase the number of them. The government has the ability to not charge property taxes on certain areas or even refund the local taxes that incure from purchases on building supplies, but no that would be to benificial and cost to much upfront... O well....

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Do you actually know of any low-income housing that was built in the last 30 years? I don't and I've lived in many of the big cities that have an abundance of low-income housing. In my experience the only low-income housing is converted from dilapidated apartment buildings or old hospitals. So your explanation simply proves that noone cares to build low-income housing even if it costs less to build new than to convert from the old.

It costs less to renovate an old building for low-income useage than to convert it to upscale condos. Developers can get away with a lot in low-income housing whereas having faulty elevators breaking down all the time and water leaks in an upscale condo won't be very profitable. It's all in the name of profits. Greed is an ugly word, but unfortunately not much is done on this planet out of the goodness of one's heart. There must be a profit even when dealing with poverty, homelessness and unemployment.

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There are places to live here that can be had for pretty low rent ($4800 a year or so with utilities approximately for a 1 bedroom, $5400 for 2-bed ) and if you figure rent (or any housing) at 33% of income, that's still only an income of $14,400- 16,200. That's not much. If you worked 40 hours a week at $7.25 an hour (as in, McDonalds), you'd make $15,080 a year before taxes, which isn't much at all, but certainly enough to afford rent+utilities. I don't think there's any sense in complaining about there not being "low-income" housing when there are so many cheaper and rent-controlled apartments around the area. So they aren't downtown, too bad, they have bus stops, they're in varied locations, and if you think of the Lindsey deveoplments, they're pretty nice places to live for the price. I'm pretty familar with prices since I've been browsing around for a new place and have looked at everything from Lindsey apartments to houses, to "condos" (based on location, mostly), and there are definitely cheap places to live around here. Not all nice, but still there. I'm aware this doesn't help homeless people with no jobs or people with three kids working at a fast food restaurant, but as much as I hate to sound heartless, it's economics, and cities really shouldn't try to run things based on charity, especially by turning places in a downtown area that's moving in an upscale direction into low-income housing. I doubt a whole lot of people would actually like that.

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I think we've pretty much have enough data to support the opinion that there is plenty of affordable (low-income) housing in NWA. As for having more low-income housing in downtown, I believe you'll find in most cities the low-income housing is concentrated in downtown because of the availability of older, denser housing that is more suitable to low-income housing than being turned into upscale condos. Fayetteville is really no different in the sense that most of the "upscale" housing in downtown is still vacant or still on the market, which may indicate a hidden need for more low-income housing in downtown Fayetteville. The main problem is that Fayetteville doesn't have much availability of older, denser housing in downtown that isn't already termed "upscale."

There are places to live here that can be had for pretty low rent ($4800 a year or so with utilities approximately for a 1 bedroom, $5400 for 2-bed ) and if you figure rent (or any housing) at 33% of income, that's still only an income of $14,400- 16,200. That's not much. If you worked 40 hours a week at $7.25 an hour (as in, McDonalds), you'd make $15,080 a year before taxes, which isn't much at all, but certainly enough to afford rent+utilities. I don't think there's any sense in complaining about there not being "low-income" housing when there are so many cheaper and rent-controlled apartments around the area. So they aren't downtown, too bad, they have bus stops, they're in varied locations, and if you think of the Lindsey deveoplments, they're pretty nice places to live for the price. I'm pretty familar with prices since I've been browsing around for a new place and have looked at everything from Lindsey apartments to houses, to "condos" (based on location, mostly), and there are definitely cheap places to live around here. Not all nice, but still there. I'm aware this doesn't help homeless people with no jobs or people with three kids working at a fast food restaurant, but as much as I hate to sound heartless, it's economics, and cities really shouldn't try to run things based on charity, especially by turning places in a downtown area that's moving in an upscale direction into low-income housing. I doubt a whole lot of people would actually like that.

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I am not for a city being that charitable. But I also know that if it wasn't for City, State, and Federal taxes then prices wouldn't increase as much as they do or become as expensive as they are (yes I know there are exceptions and all). And this area has Horrible mass transit. If it wasn't for the UofA, I don't think there would be anything we could call mass transit here.

Also, having low to very-low income housing downtown you increase the value of the downtown area. It will put more people downtown to use those facilities there. You have less strain on the public transportation since lower income tend to use the transportation more (and with such low density around here it is expensive to run buses). It also allows low income people to save more since they don't have to rely on a vehicle to travel for certain amenities. I think it would benefit Fayetteville Greatly to encourage low to very-low income housing "Downtown" and I am sad that there is a minimum amount.

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