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City of Boise adding affordable housing through its Housing Investment Program

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said the program seeks to focus first on those that need it most with more multi-family housing available within Boise budgets.

BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise is launching its new project titled the 'Housing Investment Program' Friday and Boise Mayor Lauren McLean addressed the program in a virtual news conference Thursday morning. 

McLean said this program would allow the city to partner with developers to build housing based on affordable and realistic Boise budgets. She said the program seeks to focus first on those that need it most with more multi-family housing available within Boise budgets.

"This is incredibly important and we're really excited to try this in partnership with the community, because it's imperative in this time when people are searching and needing housing that's affordable for Boise budgets," McLean said. 

According to the City of Boise, the program will use strategic investments in production of housing and preservation to serve residents of Boise. The program is centered around the priorities of helping the most marginalized, targeting the most-needed resources, embracing housing first and approaching affordability holistically. 

"The city will try as many tools at our disposal as we can in partnership with those that build homes to make sure and that Boiseans and Boise budgets have a home that doesn't impact their our ability to pay our bills, put food on the table, seek medical attention if needed and importantly contribute to our community," McLean said. "A home for everyone is fundamental to our ability to do that as individuals and as a families."

The program has goals based on the next five years, by partnering with "qualified affordable housing developers." 

According to the Housing Investment Program plan, the goal is to produce 1,500 housing units at 60% area median income (AMI) and below. This also includes 250 units of supportive housing dedicated to Our Path Home. 

The plan also includes goals of preserving 1,000 housing units at 80% AMI and below. 

"As part of our holistic investment approach, the City considers a variety of metrics, including but not limited to: the amount of investment per affordable unit, the unit mix and unit size, a development’s AMI portfolio, and the location of the development," the Housing Investment Program plan states. "Additionally, through creative partnership, the City expects to not only produce much needed housing units for Boise residents, but to also use these investments to support other citywide goals such as climate action, movement for everyone, and economic development."

McLean said the program also has a pre-qualification process to help those types of projects get moving faster, as well as provide gap financing to close the margin of cost from the developer and what an individual can pay by using the housing land trust.

For a developer to be considered for the Housing Investment Program, the developer must have substantial experience with developing affordable rental housing for multi-family spaces. 

"Groundlease projects will be a for a term of not less than 75 years with tiered rent increases," the City of Boise said. "Income-restricted units must remain income-restricted for the length of the ground lease. Projects that do not utilize a groundlease must remain affordable for a minimum of 15 years."

In addition, a minimum of 50% of all produced multi-family units serve 60% AMI and below and a minimum of 50% of all preserved multifamily units serve 80% AMI and below.

The developer also must meet all planning, zoning, and building approvals through the City of Boise. The developer also must dedicate the minimum number of units to Our Path Home for households exiting homelessness.      

The Housing Investment Program is set to launch Friday. 

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