Last week, I focused my column on short term rentals and the proposed Gillespie County Relief Route. This week, I am following up with committee efforts to address affordable housing, now referred to as “attainable housing.”
Last April the Chamber of Commerce sponsored an Affordable Housing Charrette which generated a lot of useful community input and several new ideas on how to address the problem with the lack of attainable housing.
We are currently in the process of implementing some of the suggestions that were made at this meeting.
First of all, the Gillespie County Economic Development Commission (EDC) recently approved retaining the services of a marketing economist to conduct a feasibility study on the local need for attainable housing.
When this study is completed in about 60 days we should know much more on the number, pricing, and type of attainable housing needed in the Fredericksburg area to satisfy both current and future needs. This study will explore the need for both rental and owner-occupied housing. It will help us determine what type of housing we should support and encourage in our community based upon local income levels.
When this study is completed and presented to the city, the council is planning to continue its discussions on what types of incentives the city might provide to encourage developers to build attainable housing that will address local needs. Incentives currently being discussed include waiver of building permit and development fees, financial assistance with the construction of streets and utilities and lease of city-owned land.
In addition, one of the key recommendations from the recent Housing Charrette is for the EDC to retain a full-time employee to serve as the focal point for our local efforts to build more attainable housing. The EDC and Chamber of Commerce are currently exploring options for funding this position.
While these actions are taking place, the city is experiencing an increase in local housing development with some of this activity expected to help satisfy local attainable housing needs.
This includes the new Orchard Grove Apartments and Rolling Hills Townhomes across the street from the Elementary School. New single-family home activity is also increasing in the Oaks of Windcrest Subdivision and Crabapple Grove Subdivisions. And a development of 22 new modular rental homes is expected to get underway on Sunrise Street in the next 60 days.
Kent Myers is the city manager of Fredericksburg.
Local citizens are encouraged to get involved in this process by attending one or more of the visioning committee meetings which are open to the public. A schedule of these meetings is listed on the city website at www.fbgtx.org.