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City Launches New Affordable Housing Payment In Lieu Of Taxes Program

Affordable housing tax program.

City Launches New Affordable Housing Payment In Lieu Of Taxes Program

The City of Chattanooga has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative to tackle its long-standing housing crisis. The innovative Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program aims to incentivize the production of affordable housing, welcoming all possible configurations from standalone units to large-scale developments.

Revamping Affordable Housing Policy

As stated by Mayor Tim Kelly, “We have a lot of work to do to counteract the national housing crisis and make housing more affordable in Chattanooga.” The Mayor extended his gratitude to the City Council and the housing policy team for their relentless efforts in conceiving this far-reaching policy.

Boosting Local Developers

Besides, the scheme is also geared to invigorate local builders by facilitating the development of smaller affordable housing and fostering a mixed-income housing culture. According to Chief Housing Officer Nicole Heyman, the PILOT program is “flexible and effective” and geared towards meeting the city’s diverse housing requirements.

Addressing the Affordable Housing Crisis

The launch of this program is a timely response to the pressing need for affordable housing solutions in Chattanooga where data show that 56% of renters earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Consequently, the PILOT program mandates that rental homes built under this scheme cater to renters lying in the 50 to 80% AMI bracket.

Dissolving Previous Barriers

Previously, the old PILOT framework posed significant impediments for small and private developers. It necessitated that developers dedicated at least half of their units to renters earning 80% of the AMI to qualify for full tax forgiveness. This previous framework failed to consider the variations in the rental market that exist across different neighborhoods and restricted the potential for deeper affordability without additional subsidies.

A New Approach to Affordability

In a break with the past, the new system merges housing quality and affordability while avoiding over-subsidizing. It achieves this by tying tax rebates directly to the cost of supplying affordable monthly rents. The tax abatement is calculated per unit, based on the difference between the existing market rates for different zip codes in Chattanooga and the affordable rents set by the AMI. This ensures developers are duly compensated for offering below-market rental rates, thereby leveling the playing field.

A Vision for the Future

With this new ambitious policy, the city administration has set the stage for a tangible transformation in Chattanooga’s housing landscape. The onus is on developers to seize this opportunity to foster a wave of affordable housing in the city, propelling Chattanooga ahead in its battle against the housing crisis.

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