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Editorial: Defining affordable

A request for a zone change on an East Nevada Street property to allow for more residences is a positive move, but we agree there are concerns with the affordable housing element of the proposal.

The property owners are proposing a zone change that would allow them to build 23 units on the 2.4 acres, a huge increase from the approximately three units now allowed. That’s a good thing in a city that has decided that rather than growing out, it will increase density.

But the proposal skirts affordable housing rules. The owners would have to build four affordable units, but the proposed developer of those units, Habitat for Humanity, has its own rules, including reducing the affordability deed restriction from 60 to 30 years and not capping the maximum purchase price. The city is considering requiring more affordable units in exchange.

But would they be affordable? One resident who spoke at the meeting was spot on when she noted “workforce housing is not for-purchase housing.”

A search of houses for sale in Ashland found exactly three single-family homes priced at or below $300,000, two of them at essentially $300,000. If you bought a home at $300,000 and could put down only $25,000, your monthly mortgage on a 4 percent, 30-year loan would be just over $1,300, not including other fees and taxes.

That’s definitely not workforce housing and definitely something that both the city and Habitat for Humanity need to consider as they move forward on this otherwise admirable project.