DUNEDIN — This city is doing better than the county and state in most categories when it comes to providing good affordable housing, but it must prepare to provide shelter for its growing population of senior citizens in the next several years, a study says.
According to an analysis conducted by Langton Consulting, “the city’s senior population is expected to continue to grow to where 44 percent of its total population will be considered senior in the year 2040. This corresponds to a significant demand for affordable and assisted housing for seniors.”
Heather Pullen, senior public affairs consultant with Langton, said the study recommends the city should prepare for an expansion of homeownership and rental affordable housing opportunities for seniors.
Dunedin is getting older demographically and being able to provide senior-type housing is going to become more important but tougher in future years as available land upon which to build becomes sparse and more expensive.
“Due to the ever-increasing aging population and aging housing stock in Dunedin, and in order to enhance the quality of life for seniors, emphasis should be put on housing rehabilitation or redevelopment of affordable housing opportunities for seniors,” the study concluded.
It suggests Dunedin should work collaboratively with the Pinellas Housing Finance Authority and Pinellas County Community Development to expand these housing opportunities.
“While available land in Dunedin remains one of the more significant challenges toward affordable housing, there will be possibilities that present themselves from time to time,” the report said. “In order to facilitate these prospects a dedicated funding stream toward affordable housing will be needed.”
During a City Commission workshop June 18, Bob Ironsmith, director of economic and housing development and the Community Redevelopment Agency, said one possibility is to use funds from sale of surplus land.
The consultant recommended funds from sale of surplus property and a portion of code enforcement payments could be dedicated toward acquisition of land, infrastructure, sustainability or development fees.
Pullen said the study recommends the city “expand and market more aggressively its toolbox of local incentives to build upon the success of the city’s current priority to stimulate private housing developers to create new homeownership and rental affordable housing opportunities.”
A focus could also be placed on redevelopment of existing, designated residential land, it concluded.
The city has already proven successful with the development of affordable housing opportunities such as EcoVillage, Shady Grove Townhomes and Creek Park Townhomes through encouraging private housing developers to create new affordable housing, the report noted.
Amenities to attract developers interested in building affordable housing could include low-cost incentives such as expedited permitting, lowering or eliminating site plan review fees, and offering impact fee rebates. These items could strengthen partnerships with private housing developers and stimulate affordable housing opportunities for redevelopment of the aging and substandard housing stock.
This fall the city staff and the Affordable Housing Task Force will report back to city commissioners on how the city might want to include a zoning district that permits microhousing, offer an inclusionary housing program that incentivizes a developer to dedicate 20% of the units in a multifamily structure as affordable housing, or provide a 5-year tax abatement for new housing or rehabilitation grants.
Dunedin is a hot zip code, Ironsmith said, so it is not financially easy to acquire land on which to build affordable housing. However, he added, affordable housing is an important ingredient to keeping the city diverse.
Among the high points from the consultant’s analysis:
• Dunedin is a built-out community with little vacant land left.
• The city’s housing tends to be older, with the majority built before 1989.
• A majority of Dunedin residents have access to housing that is not overcrowded nor lacking in plumbing or a complete kitchen.
• Dunedin as a whole is in better shape than Pinellas County or the state of Florida in percentage of housing impacted by a higher (30% or more) cost burden of household income toward housing.
• Dunedin does not appear to be negatively impacted by the presence of short-term vacation rentals on its affordable housing supply.
• Demand for real estate in Dunedin has increased at a higher rate than the average for Florida.
Staff will report back to the City Commission this fall with a list of recommended short-term goals.