Housing Affordability and Opportunity Policy

SPAAR - 04/24/2023

The Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors® (SPAAR) recognizes that homeownership is the cornerstone of building wealth and financial stability. Homeownership is an opportunity that should be equally available to all who wish to achieve it, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, and gender identity. Developing consistent, clear, and coordinated standards with fellow housing stakeholders for affordability and opportunity throughout the region will be beneficial to all of our communities.

Housing affordability is when housing costs are not burdensome. SPAAR shall use the federal definition of “housing affordability” as guidance. Housing opportunity is when housing is available and affordable.

Housing opportunities are best approached with consideration of local demographic trends, housing studies, and citizen input that inform a variety of life cycle housing choices—both owner-occupied and rental units, housing units per acre, and price options. Changing housing needs, including aging population, family size and composition, and income base have an impact on housing opportunity. These same factors should be considered when encouraging affordable rental housing, as well.

Overly restrictive regulatory barriers and fees increase housing costs and reduce housing choices and affordability. For example, minimum lot sizes, setback requirements, open space dedications, energy efficiency standards, zoning requirements and permitting fees all increase costs without providing more housing units. SPAAR supports diversity and density in housing when it does not infringe on property rights.

Everyone needs housing, whether they’re experiencing homelessness, in a rental situation, or own their own home. To expand housing opportunities for everyone, SPAAR advocates for alternative and strategic housing types to increase the inventory of available housing. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), tiny homes, container homes, and modular homes are a few examples of how the region can encourage density while maintaining livability. Other housing opportunities include workforce and employer-assisted housing with an increased emphasis on a variety of transportation options. Often, policies restrict housing supply, which further exacerbates the inventory shortage making all types of housing more expensive. SPAAR encourages zoning changes to make housing more widely available and affordable. While new housing types and developments assist with increasing density, the preservation and rehabilitation of existing housing stock should be promoted when it makes financial sense.

The Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors® (SPAAR) supports efforts to ensure that current and future residents in the region have access to safe and affordable housing opportunities. Providing strategic and intentional housing options will expand homeownership opportunities to those who wish to achieve it.

Approved by the Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors® Board of Directors on March 23, 2023.

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