Affordable Housing Study Before Payson Council

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An affordable housing study conceived by Payson's Community Development Department and the Affordable Housing Task Force is up for council adoption at a special meeting Thursday evening.

If approved, the study will serve as a policy-making guideline for a proposed, council-appointed Affordable Housing Committee. The group will use the study to formulate future programs, and devise grants and budgets.

"The first step will be to see what the (council) reaction is to our report," said Rick Croy, chair of the affordable housing task force. "If (the council) does follow our recommendation to create an advisory board, then it's up to that entity to say, ‘How will we raise the money?'"

Housing Program Manager Bethany Beck wrote in a memo to the council that the passage of the report also cements the town's commitment to providing affordable housing to the residents of Payson.

The 90-page affordable housing study offers a comprehensive analysis of the current situation in Payson. It also cites examples of municipalities such as Santa Cruz, Calif., San Francisco and Flagstaff that are operating successful affordable housing projects.

"It's important to remember that there is no simple way or single solution to make this vision a reality. The mix and balance of Payson's housing stock has been declining for years, and the road to recovery will be long and complicated," concluded findings of the report.

If the occupants of a dwelling spend less than 30 percent of their income on housing, they are living in affordable conditions, according to the definition provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The study going before council Thursday night explains that, as of Oct. 17, 2006, the average annual income for a four-person household in Payson is $49,500. At that rate, a family could afford to pay a $1,238 monthly mortgage for a $150,000 home. Nearly three weeks ago, the Multiple Listing Service showed 10 site-built homes on the market for less than $200,000. In Payson, 80 percent of the housing stock is priced more than $250,000. A household would have to earn $63,000 a year or $30 an hour to afford those prices.

An MLS report compiled in September 2006 showed the average price of a home on the market in Payson at $530,000.

The Payson Town Council first addressed the town's work force housing shortage back in 1998. An ad hoc affordable housing group was formed at that time, but disbanded in 2001.

To alleviate housing shortages, the search for funding and land becomes a top priority. Once passed by the council, the new advisory committee will seek funding from existing Community Development Block Grants -- which help to clean up blighted areas and dilapidated housing -- land trusts and loan programs. Employee-assisted housing will also be a consideration.

Croy encouraged members of the public to attend the meeting and provide input. Join town council and staff at 4 p.m. Nov. 9 at town hall. A copy of the report is posted on the Town of Payson Web site.

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