Sunday, July 09, 2006

More Spin or Outright Lies?

Zach Brandon is working hard to convince readers of his blog that Madison doesn't need Inclusionary Zoning because there is plenty of affordable housing available. Of course, anyone who has tried to rent or buy a home in Madison knows just how hard it is to find affordable housing.

Yesterday, Zach evaluated the average property assessments for various areas of Madison for affordability. He claims:
A look at the City Assessor's 2006 data, shows that the homes in 60 neighborhood areas are assessed below the city wide average of $239,400. More importantly, in all but 16 of them, the average is below the maximum available "affordable" Inclusionary Zoning price of $217,623.
Today, Zach took a look at the assessed value of the homes of 18 of the 20 alderpeople (2 are renters). He concludes:
Turns out 10 of the 18 homeowners on the Common Council live in houses assessed below what the city calls "affordable housing." A majority (56%) of the alders live in houses below the maximum available Inclusionary Zoning price of $217,623.
So, where does the spin come in? Zach uses the magic number of $217,623 as the affordability standard. He pulled this number from the list of available IZ units but fails to state that this is the price of a 4 bedroom home. The maximum IZ price for a 4 bedroom home is affordable to those making $67,900 or 80% of the area median income (AMI) for a family of 6. Presumably, such a family may have 2 or even 3 income earners.

The IZ ordinance defines affordability according to number of bedrooms in the unit, and the maximum sales prices are based upon the various family sizes likely to live in each such home. The real maximum sales prices for smaller Inclusionary Zoning homes (affordable to those making 80% of Area Median Income) are:
1 Bedroom - $130,038 (based on 80% of AMI for an average of 1-2 person families or $)
2 Bedroom - $156,016 (based on 80% of AMI for 3 person families)
3 Bedroom - $180,292 (based on 80% of AMI for an average of 4-5 person families)

Of course, using these real IZ prices blows up Zach's claims that affordable housing is so readily available. Based on these standards, only 6 (33%) of the 18 alders live in housing deemed affordable under Inclusionary Zoning, as opposed to the 10 (over 50%) that Zach claims. And the average property assessments by area really tell us nothing without knowing the specifics of the sizes of the homes in the area and the actual numbers of homes available above or below the affordability levels.

Before believing the claims of Zach Brandon and the real estate industry regarding the availability of affordable housing in Madison, check out the number for yourself. Zach has definitely outdone himself this time as the master of spin and lies.


Blogger proletariat said...

Why all the focus at 80% I would assume a large proportion of famlies are way below that. What would a 150,000 at 80% look like at 50%.

Also what about non-nuclear famlies. 4 bedrooms are referenced for 4-5 people, and two bedrooms for 3. What about the single parent with a child from each gender.

One would imagine, at least I would, that there would not be a major difference between the market and IZ at 80%. What seems more important is if IZ helps create more sub 150,000 homes which are in short supply from a recent Journal article. 80 out of 3,000 of posted homes are under 150,000. Also, important is if it slows market forces. Is there a way to predict an IZ to a market based home in lets say 10 years.

3:55 AM  

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