A number of nonprofit housing organizations across the country are playing long-term stewardship roles monitoring and managing units produced through inclusionary housing programs.
Mammoth Lakes, California
Mammoth Lakes is a ski resort town with very high housing costs. The town adopted affordable housing mitigation regulations that require developers of new housing, hotels, resorts, or commercial real estate to develop new affordable housing units as part of these projects. However, town leaders recognized that the community lacked the capacity to manage detailed negotiations with developers.
The town turned to a local nonprofit, Mammoth Lakes Housing (MLH), for assistance. The town contracts with MLH to provide a number of services, including monitoring their entire portfolio of resale-restricted housing, collecting data on housing needs, working with private developers to ensure compliance with the housing mitigation ordinance, and assisting the town to address its housing goals. While the town makes all decisions, each developer is required to meet with MLH prior to submitting a development proposal to ensure that they understand the town’s affordable housing requirements.
In many cases, MLH is able to informally arrange for proposals that better meet the town’s housing needs. Pam Hennarty of MLH describes a deal where it negotiated “a development agreement for a reduced number of on-site units with a large in-lieu payment. The development consisted of a rather large hotel, golf course, and some condominiums, which would not provide a suitable living environment for members of the workforce. It is situations such as this where flexibility really can provide a better quality of life for the potential residents.”
- A local housing nonprofit offers an institutional home for the program
- Allows jurisdiction to access specialized skills without dedicated staff
- Nonprofits generally have lower overhead, which may mean cost savings for the program
- Nonprofit board may bring additional community accountability to the program
- Nonprofits can often be more entrepreneurial and can partner with lenders and others to deliver additional services
- If program revenues are coming from local government, it can be difficult for an outside agency to effectively advocate for necessary funds
- Local government may give up some direct control over the program by contracting with a nonprofit with its own housing mission and goals