Apr 5, 2021
The need for affordable housing exists in communities across the country. This episode’s guest, William Baylor, joins Monica to talk about current federal affordable housing initiatives, as well as the personal initiatives he’s involved with in his own market of Birmingham. This episode will provide ideas and resources for how agents can help find rental and purchase opportunities in their marketplaces that are affordable for people with a lower median income.
Affordable housing has been something that people have been attempting to do since the turn of the century. The industry definition of affordable housing is when you pay 30% or less of your income towards housing costs. In political housing circles, affordable housing refers to housing that uses some sort of public assistance to support families or individuals who lack the means to pay the market rate in an area.
Governments at every level must ensure that there are enough subsidy funds available to meet the needs of their community. William talks about some of the things the federal government is doing for affordable housing, including Opportunity Zones and some relaxed criteria by the FHA. Partnerships between different levels of government are vital to ensuring that communities, and the land, are protected.
When you start looking at the makeup of a city, the number two contributor to any city’s general funds is property tax. The number one contributor is sales tax, which is driven by those property taxes. It is imperative that the government incentivizes builders to develop areas across the country, either through tax credits or reducing regulations around zoning laws. Zoning should meet locally defined community needs; it is at the heart of growth for a city. There are several different HUD counseling programs that help people get ready to become homeowners. For REALTORS® at large, being familiar with these programs will be a great way to help educate your buyers.
On the local level, getting people to see the importance of having affordable housing is the first step. In Monica’s market, there is a group that oversees renovations and has built smaller, affordable apartments. In William’s market, they are working with the county commission to develop a comprehensive affordable housing plan. There are many parties involved in this initiative (including real estate agents), to hopefully create a plan that could be replicated in other areas as well. Having the REALTOR® buy-in is crucial for creating these opportunities in your communities.
Affordable housing initiatives include both rental and purchasing opportunities. These go hand in hand, as every time a first-time home buyer closes, it opens the door for someone to have a new rental opportunity or someone on the waiting list to get a first-time buying opportunity. Some cities will set aside income-based housing that may eventually become market value properties. This will vary across different locations depending on which community groups are involved. For real estate agents, if you’re helping your buyers purchase in one of these areas, you want to be able to give them this information upfront.
The Home Investment Partnership Program includes things like stabilization programs, community development block grants, and neighborhood stabilization programs. Funds from this program give communities the opportunity to create homeowners, especially for those with low to moderate income.
William and Monica talk about transitioning out of the eviction moratorium we were in during the times of COVID-19. Some of the things they are doing to help manage this is providing resources to help renters stay inside of their homes, including government-funded rental assistance. Qualified tenants can apply for assistance through programs in their area. William talks about some other groups that help when tenants may be displaced from affordable housing.
As REALTORS® and community stakeholders, it’s important to take the time to plan and examine the community you live and work in to look for the areas to make improvements. When looking at affordable housing and other community issues, take a step back and work together to create what you want it to be. Working with government affairs directors can help you as a real estate agent increase awareness about products and resources available in your area.
“Affordable housing is not just about new construction, but it’s a cohesive and harmonious thing where all groups are working together to make it really happen.” — William
“When people are invested in their community, then they’re also committed to spend money in their community and the commercial will build up as the residential strengthens.” — Monica
“The heart of what we do is REALTOR®-driven. When you see the dedication and hard work that REALTORS® put in every single day to create opportunities of ownership, it strengthens your commitment.” — William
“We should rely on rental assistance and strengthen rental assistance as much as possible, so we can make sure even the least of these are served and have the opportunity to remain homeowners, or even create new homeowners.” — William
Onlinelearning.realtor for NAR Online Education
Training4RE.com — List of Classroom Courses from NAR and its affiliates
Monica’s Facebook Page
William Baylor works with REALTORS® and Home Ownership Champions to amplify their voice, vision, and value so they can make a successful impact on the real estate industry, their communities, and the world. With more than a decade of experience in the Government and Non-Profit sector, a passion for making meaningful connections with others, and an insatiable appetite for helping others maximize their potential, Will feels that Home Ownership Advocacy isn’t just an occupation but also his vocation. He is a graduate of Auburn University with a Personal Certification in Economic & Community Development.
He is the Chairman of the Jefferson County Affordable Housing Taskforce, a coalition of community stakeholders who have joined together to create Affordable Housing in Jefferson County and all of Alabama. Today, in addition to serving on the Jefferson County Affordable Housing Taskforce, William is Vice president of Government, Legislative, and Community Affairs for the Birmingham Association of REALTOR®. He’s Staff Liaison of 12 committees at BAR touching all industry matters from strategizing local legislative efforts and activations on behalf of the Association, to Community Development. His days are filled with letter writing, consensus building, and conversations with stakeholders, partners, and leaders across the country, telling our story and fighting for the future of our businesses, industry, and REALTOR® values.