Salisbury City Council receives update on 10-year housing strategy

Published 12:05 am Friday, June 7, 2024

SALISBURY — Planning and Neighborhoods Director Hannah Jacobson along with Aaron Finley, housing director with Thomas P. Miller & Associates, gave an update to the Salisbury City Council on the 10-year housing strategy plan and received commentary from them on the draft’s strategic focus areas at the June 4 meeting. 

Thomas P. Miller & Associates is the firm chosen by Salisbury in 2023 to assist in completing the housing strategy. Jacobson said it is their intention to turn the goals and strategies presented into “actions and tactics.”

The strategy’s four goals are to increase opportunities for new affordable for-sale and for-rent developments, ensure residential development meets community needs, maintain and improve existing supply of for-sale and for-rent housing, and foster efficient and collaborative housing approaches. 

There is a potential need of 5,200-5,500 new housing units by 2033. Some of the ways the city can increase opportunities for new affordable for-sale and for-rent developments is to form an affordable housing trust fund, create a community land trust, focus on the Kesler Mill project, and potentially utilize unused housing choice vouchers to better confront affordable housing funding gaps.

From 2017-2022, there was a 78 percent increase in single-family construction costs by square foot. In order to ensure residential development meets community needs, actions that can be taken include looking at opportunities to leverage energy efficiency rebates and programs, reintroduce design guidelines for single and two family homes and evaluate developers in “affluent areas” like Lake Norman to generate a team of luxury home builders.

In the next 10 years, 112 low-income housing tax credit units are exiting their affordability period. To maintain and improve existing supply of for-sale and for-rent housing, the city could work with a local bank on a low-interest owner occupied rehab program, preserve active affordable housing inventory, study vacant commercial spaces for possible housing, and find partnerships to confirm low-income housing tax credits are still affordable after their affordability period ends. 

To foster efficient and collaborative housing approaches, Salisbury might hire or assign a housing coordinator, collaborate more with other housing and community organizations, find a partner to further eviction prevention and mediation services for tenant-landlord disputes, and hire small scale, local, and regional developers to build housing “at all price points.” 

“I think there’s some big ideas in there, some that I never heard of, for starters, and then some that I never thought about,” Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Sheffield said. “I think having this opens our eyes to different ideas. There’s some we’ll have to rule out right off the bat…I think there’s a lot of good meat in here.”

Finley explained that after the meeting, staff will be developing “prioritization, sequencing and implementation steps” for the overall strategy. They are also going to determine best practices and performance metrics “to track our progress towards success in meeting some of these goals.”

Finley said the final report is expected to be finished in July or August of this year.