Best Practices

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
ADUs are independent housing units created within single-family homes or on their lots. An ADU can provide supplementary housing that can be integrated into existing single-family neighborhoods to provide a typically lower priced housing alternative with little or no negative impact on the character of the neighborhood.

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Santa Cruz, California

The City of Santa Cruz has implemented a series of permitting and zoning changes meant to encourage the construction of accessory dwelling units. These housing units are small, self-contained secondary apartments on the same lot as residential buildings, built either within the building envelope or as an addition or conversion of a detached building. Santa Cruz's ADU program won the American Planning Association's 2005 National Outstanding Planning Award for a Program.

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Affordable Housing Good Design
Towns can choose to actively control housing design using zoning and building design standards that mandate how housing units should be built and placed within communities. Towns can also choose to encourage good design through negotiation with developers and bonuses and or tax incentives. Good design encourages more livable, sustainable housing in more compact, walkable neighborhoods.

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Delaware by Design

The Designing with Density in Delaware website reviews town and neighborhood design options and strategies using compact, sustainable planning practices that maximize community and minimize sprawl, including numerous examples of good design practices in Delaware.

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Community Land Trust (CLT)
As the costs to make homeownership affordable for households with low and moderate incomes have increased exponentially in recent years, many communities have turned to the Community Land Trust (CLT) model to preserve these public and private investments. Offering "development without displacement", the CLT model expands homeownership opportunities while ensuring that homes remain affordable to future generations of low- and moderate-income households.

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Diamond State CLT: A Statewide Community Land Trust

Formed in 2006, Diamond State Community Land Trust's (Diamond State CLT) mission is to help families attain the American dream of homeownership. Diamond State is a membership-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers a balanced approach to governance. Though housing costs in Delaware remain beyond the reach of many family budgets, Diamond State moves working families into homes they can afford. Diamond State invests funds in every transaction, "buying down" the purchase price of the home.

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Inclusionary Housing
Inclusionary housing programs or ordinances require or provide incentives for the creation of affordable and moderately- priced homes in new developments. Communities can use their local zoning powers to counter declining public-sector investment in affordable housing, create housing for their workforce, and enable low- and moderate- income families to benefit from urban reinvestment and new development.

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Sussex County, Delaware

In 2006, Sussex County adopted a voluntary Moderately Priced Housing Unit (MPHU) program to be implemented as a two-year pilot. In exchange for setting aside 15% of a subdivision's units to be moderately priced, the developer may receive a density bonus, expedited review, and full utilization of the zoning designated for the land or parcel. All units are to be owner-occupied and have 20-year affordability restrictions. In 2008, a complementary rental program using the same basic concepts (voluntary, density bonuses and expedited review) was added.

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Local Solutions
The purpose of this section is to highlight other solutions available to communities that do not easily fit into other tools. The following tools can be found in this section:

Developer Incentives
Developer incentives can provide relief from regulations to encourage the production of affordable housing voluntarily.

Ensure Availability of Sites for Affordable Housing
A community can take steps to ensure sufficient land is available to meet their affordable housing needs.

Generate Capital for Affordable Homes
While changes to land use regulations can expand the supply of affordable housing, sometimes communities may still need additional resources to bring housing prices within reach of working households.

Reduce Regulatory Barriers
The local regulatory framework can be reviewed and revised to remove barriers to the development of both affordable and market-rate housing.

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Shared-Equity Homeownership
Committed to expanding homeownership, but constrained by the high price of making homeownership a reality for low-income households, many communities have instituted shared-equity requirements for their programs to help families achieve homeownership. Shared-equity homeownership ensures that homes made affordable by public and private subsidies or policies remain affordable long-term by restricting the future resale price of the home and ensuring it is sold to another low- or moderate-income buyer.

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Boulder, Colorado - HomeWorks

Early versions of Boulder's homeownership programs had short resale restrictions of ten years for homes affordable to moderate-income households and five years for homes affordable to low-income households. In 2000, the City adopted an inclusionary zoning ordinance requiring 20% of units in any new development to be initially and permanently affordable to households with incomes below 80% of the area median income.