Williams Says Affordable Downtown Housing Will Not Happen Without Tax Incentives; Plan Approved 8-1

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A city official said Tuesday that affordable housing will not happen downtown without government incentives to developers.

Donna Williams, administrator of the department of economic and community development, said a new incentive program requires that at least 20 percent of the units be set aside for those with low or moderate income.

She said that is defined by HUD as $30,900 for a single person and $54,200 for a family of four.

Ms. Williams said downtown "is very popular, but it is expensive to live there. A lot of those who work downtown would like to be able to live there."

Councilman Larry Grohn said it appeared that developers are moving into downtown readily without asking for incentives. Ms. Williams said that is true, but she said she knows of no planned project with an affordable housing component.

Councilman Yusuf Hakeem said he had a concern that "we say we are going to do A, and we do B." He said in other such projects some with higher income were able to get into the affordable spots.

Councilman Moses Freeman said he is a strong supporter of the program. He said, "We need to fill up the streets downtown." He said with more residents there should be less crime, and he said the new residents would be doing business downtown. 

The City Council voted 8-1 to put the incentives in place.

Each case will go before the City Council.

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