Housing is something young voters say they care a lot about. Especially the cost of living.
On Oct. 14, when you vote for mayor-president and for council, you’re voting on housing policy.
Local government — that is, the mayor-president and the councils — have basically three tools they can use to impact housing: policy, infrastructure, and funding.
Zoning is the most direct policy that the City Council can influence. It impacts Lafayette’s housing market by controlling how easy it is to build new subdivisions or add housing to existing neighborhoods.
Council members vote on the rules in the Lafayette Development Code that control where houses and apartments go and how many are allowed in each neighborhood.
In other words, the code impacts housing supply by setting the boundaries of where houses can go.
LCG’s budget sets our priorities as a community. We can choose funding for projects like roads or sewer infrastructure that influence where we build new neighborhoods and subdivisions. Or whether we invest in older neighborhoods to support density.
For instance, we’ve seen a little housing boom Downtown in the last few years. But it’s been held up by a lack of investment in sewer infrastructure. Fixing that would mean more apartments and homes Downtown or in the middle of Lafayette.
We can use tax dollars to build housing developments, which it did in 2020 with a $1.5 million, no-interest loan to help build the Bottle Art Lofts on University Avenue.
Communities can set up redevelopment authorities and land trusts that help offset land costs and coordinate investment in underserved neighborhoods. Lafayette has a redevelopment authority that currently isn’t funded or operating.
LCG uses a regular batch of federal money to give residents low-cost loans for down payments on their first homes or to renovate older houses to make living here more affordable.
Whatever role you think local government ought to play, the fact is, local government can and does affect the cost of housing. So if that matters to you, you should ask candidates about it. Here are three questions you can ask:
- How will you improve housing availability in Lafayette?
- What will you do to address the cost of housing here?
- How can you make it easier to find somewhere to live?
Follow our reporting on housing
Cities around the country have blazed new trails with solutions to their housing problems that Lafayette can learn from. But its own citizens have answers too.
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