Housing TrendsThe 2015 program, “What’s up with Housing?” focused on housing trends and affordability. Carl Miller of COMPASS opened the session with a snapshot of the changing demographics and market in the region. The population is aging with a greater percentage of people in the lower half of the population pyramid. Increasing transportation is a factor in the consideration of affordability, and maybe affecting construction trends. Ellen Campfield’s firm, Agnew::Beck is completing a housing study for the City of Boise. She called Boise, “a burgeoning city” with steady population, wage and job growth, decreased unemployment, an ever increasing need for a diversity of housing, and a high demand for affordable housing. Derick O’Neill director of the City of Boise Planning and Development Services described how the city is redefining the downtown and the recent trends in housing development. He related the number, types and location of the 1300 units either under construction, approved or in a conceptual stage.
Chris Zahas, LeLand Consulting Group highlighted findings of market research recently completed for CCDC. Boise is doing all the right things; Planning and place-making do make a difference. The challenge for the city is the supply of housing, not the demand. Joe Swenson introduced the panel discussion on the challenges facing affordable housing developers like his non-profit organization, Neighborhood Works. He described the advantages of in-fill affordable housing, the challenges and some examples that are being built. Tom Mannschreck, Thomas Development Corporation, followed with examples from his company’s experience building affordable, sustainable housing throughout the region. He provided comparative cost data from a number of different projects.
Alison Gillespie, Idaho First Bank, related the challenges of mortgage lenders are facing in light of changes in regulations after the recession and the impacts on their practices. Jim Tomlinson of Tomlinson Associates concluded the program with a history of the decreasing federal support for affordable housing, and the challenges of meeting the increasing demand.