The cost of housing gets a lot more attention in the city’s draft revision of a document that lays out how it aligns with statewide planning goals. At a special meeting last Tuesday, the Ashland Planning Commission offered suggestions for a few more tweaks before the first full update in nearly 30 years of the city Housing Element, part of the city Comprehensive Plan, goes before the City Council for approval, which is expected in January.
Portions of the Housing Element have been modified over the years, most recently in 2015, but in the one goal and five policies listed in the current document, affordable housing merits only one mention of “moderate cost housing.”
The draft revised Housing Element has four goals and 24 policies, six of which mention affordability and another two prioritizing preservation of “needed housing types” and factoring in “the cost of housing” when making infrastructure decisions.
Rent-burdened Ashlanders are now nearly half of the town, or 44 percent. The department of Housing and Urban Development defines rent burden as a household that spends 30 percent or more of their income on housing. About 35 percent of renter households in Ashland actually spend more than half of their income on housing, Senior Planner Brandon Goldman said at a recent Housing and Human Services Commission meeting.
The housing element is a part of a city comprehensive plan which was adopted in 1982. The housing element was last updated in 1989. Housing Program Specialist Linda Reid said the element is very outdated.
The update will incorporate language to update the element and will have attached documents which are updated every five years or so and will incorporate goals of the wider community. These goals are based off of community feedback gathered in the last few months from various surveys and public forums.
The intent is that this document will serve as a base for future city plans so they are consistent and non-discriminatory. Some of the new goals and policies incorporate protection of the environment, preservation and implementation of affordable housing and accessibility for all.
Attached documents include the buildable lands inventory and the housing needs analysis.
The updated housing element will guide the way for future developments and policies regarding all housing types within the city.