The Lima News will share the four Lima mayoral candidates’ answers to a different question each week through the May 4 primary.
Candidates were given up to 200 words to explain their answer, and they had four days to respond. Their answers appear as they submitted them, with minimal editing.
This week’s question: What specifically do you think needs to be done with Lima’s housing stock, both in new construction and code enforcement?
I will take a balanced approach to provide quality housing across the city, ensuring that no one who works for a living struggles to find a safe place to live by:
• Creating a Neighborhood Relief Fund to assist with maintenance and repair costs.
• Creating an Affordable Housing Fund to increase homeownership and close the construction gap for developers.
• Leveraging 700+ back tax properties and 800+ vacant lots for workforce, supportive and market-rate housing development at all income levels.
• Implementing a blight removal strategy that repurposes vacant lots into attractive green spaces.
• Identifying strategies to connect local workforce to careers in housing construction.
• Reviewing regulations and codes to encourage land use that enhances neighborhoods and do not unnecessarily add to the cost of housing construction.
• Shifting to a code enforcement model that is:
Evidence-based: using cross-departmental data to gain a complete picture of neighborhood strengths and challenges.
Collaborative: Connecting code enforcement to broader policy initiatives and agencies focused on neighborhood revitalization, community/economic development and public health.
Community-centric: Understanding local issues, priorities, and needs and engaging residents in program and policy design.
Proactive: Addressing systemic issues before a complaint or code enforcement violation is issued.
Lima’s MLS system shows about 250 homes or condos for sale ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. Census data shows that 53% of Lima’s population rent rather than own their homes. In the midst of what many are calling a housing crisis, hundreds of lots sit empty, and uninhabitable homes are ignored.
Alleviating this crisis will take drastic steps. Blighted homes must be torn down, opening city lots for development. Homes that still have hope of habitation should be rehabbed. Federal and state grants have been available for years and are ready to be accessed to pay for this effort. Helping renters achieve home ownership can be done with the help of other state and federal programs.
Fast-tracking building permits, aiding in infrastructure connections and incentivizing through residential tax abatements will help us build and develop our way out of this crisis. Keeping housing affordable will attract residents and businesses alike.
We must prioritize our neighborhoods by elevating and engaging with neighborhood associations, enabling the elimination of blight before it happens. With neighborhoods, we can prioritize and plan for long term infrastructure improvement.
This crisis requires a vision of what Lima can be, this is what a Swanson Administration will bring.
Housing is a huge issue facing our community. Our city is below 50% owner-occupied households, yet the city continues to develop more low-income housing. We need supply at every price point.
I plan to concentrate on housing that will be affordable for working families, young professionals and seniors who are downsizing. Three key ways I will do this:
• I would work to create a partnership with local developers to offer tax incentives for new market-rate construction, particularly if they use existing land bank properties.
• I will work to procure grants to help Lima residents fund home repairs and work to not let homes reach dilapidation.
• I propose setting aside $10 million of our incoming one-time stimulus funds, if allowed, to create a down payment assistance program for residents, regardless of income. This will help attract new homeowners while also broaden our tax base. It will also lead to better property maintenance, better schools and, most importantly, build wealth for the homeowner.
The time for studies and focus groups has passed. We will only learn the same lessons learned with previous housing studies. Now is the time for big ideas and big actions to reverse the decline in homeownership in Lima.
When we look at the housing crisis here in Lima, look no further than the lack of availability of clean affordable housing.
This problem with housing has not been effectively addressed in the past 30 years. And now another housing task force that, once again, has yet to show any clear progress in solving any of these problems.
• Conduct a review of the code enforcement process and make necessary changes so that we can assist landlords and homeowners in making sure their properties are brought up to and maintained in accordance with existing codes.
• Next, it is imperative that the city of Lima, partnering with private investors, working to build houses and renovating and updating our housing stock. Using our trade school programs to transition students into the workforce and to instill pride in our neighborhoods. We need 1,000 new residencies in the next 10 years to support growth and development. And this is a great way to create jobs and new industry for our citizens.
• Third, I propose that we build tiny homes communities. Simply put, we need more homeowners. Efficient homes designed for purchase and to be owned by the resident within five years.