In a presentation at the July 5 meeting of the YS Development Corporation, villager Dirk Lackovich-Van Gorp asked the organization, during a months-long process to determine the organization’s future direction , to consider affordable housing while continuing its deliberations.
“I understood that YSDC was going through a visioning process, and I wanted to be here to advocate for the whole issue of affordable housing in the village… to become one of the central elements of your vision,” Lackovich said. -Van Gorp.
A former construction company owner, Lackovich-Van Gorp has lived in the village with his family since 2014. He is a grants manager for the Clark County Community and Economic Development Department and is responsible for working with townships, the community and nonprofit partner organizations to design, manage, and implement grantmaking programs. It manages several major funding streams, including Housing and Urban Development, Fair Housing Block Grants, Community Housing Impact and Preservation, and Affordable Housing.
“My commitment, to be honest with you, is to maintain the diversity that we love in Yellow Springs, and which I think is integral to who we are as a village,” he said.
According to Lackovich-Van Gorp, it is necessary for the village to maintain economically diverse households. He also highlighted the need for more rental residences in the village.
“In our current society and economy, [homeownership is] going to be a really tough line to hoe, especially given current housing prices and construction prices and land prices, not just in Yellow Springs but in many communities,” he said.
Lackovich-Van Gorp also cited difficulties obtaining financing for homeownership as a reason for turning to renting as a solution. Even state and federal grants for affordable housing, he said, don’t completely solve the problem.
“You just can’t do it in today’s market,” he said. “I run a program in Clark County, but we can only do it for six to eight families.”
Lackovich-Van Gorp said he thinks the village needs to consider a full-scale solution for the housing shortage. He stressed that the Village’s purchase and rental of the Lawson Place apartments was a good start, but said it was ultimately about ‘preserving’ affordable housing, not creating more. . Solutions to the affordable housing shortage, he said, should also extend beyond development projects run by nonprofit organizations.
“I have a lot of respect for the community housing development organizations here. We have Home, Inc. — they’ve done a great job,” he said. “Now we need to do something bigger that is probably beyond what Home, Inc. would normally be able to do with its own resources and relationships.”
Lackovich-Van Gorp went on to explain that affordable housing rentals for low-to-moderate income families are often overseen by dedicated for-profit or non-profit developers. These developers, he said, have the experience and ability to set up “stacked funding.” He pointed to the partnership between Home, Inc. and St. Mary Development Corporation, an organization dedicated to securing affordable housing for seniors, on a senior housing development project as an example of a stacked funding project.
He also discussed Legacy Place in nearby Urbana, a recently completed stacked finance project that was spearheaded by a community economic development partnership with Champaign County and the Urbana School District. It’s a $13.3 million project that includes both the renovation of two Urbana public schools and the addition of a 51-unit senior housing complex in a former hotel in the downtown.
With all of this in mind, Lackovich-Van Gorp recommended that the YSDC consider taking more of a leadership position in providing affordable housing solutions.
“Someone like YSDC [should] seriously consider going out and contacting some of these development corporations – there are several for-profit and non-profit affordable housing developers in our area,” he said.
Lackovich-Van Gorp added that he believes mixed tenancy developments are in the best interests of the village. Mixed-income housing could include a range of options for tenants in Yellow Springs, ranging from income-based rentals to market-based rentals, all within the same complex.
“I personally believe that for the village to maintain its diversity and meet the needs, we don’t just need seniors’ rentals, we need high quality, good quality, attractive affordable rental housing for all types of people. households, no matter who they are,” he said. said.
Citing web sources, Lackovich-Van Gorp said market rates for rental residences in Yellow Springs range from about $700 to $1,400 for two- to three-bedroom apartments or houses. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordability is defined as spending 30% or less of annual income on housing.
“When you start looking at the income needed to pay those [homes] we go from [needing a yearly salary of] $30,800 for a room,” he said. “We all have friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members and everyone else and you look at this and you’re like, ‘Wow – who would have thought you had to make $40,000 to afford an apartment of two rooms?’
YSDC President Corrie Van Ausdal said she appreciates Lackovich-Van Gorp’s unique approach to solving the village’s problems with affordable housing.
“[He] reached out with something different than what I saw presented in Yellow Springs,” she said.
Van Ausdal also said that the YSDC had considered taking on affordable housing as part of its mission through a subcommittee a few years ago, but needed more clarification on the how their participation in the effort would align with the organization’s economic development mission.
“A few years ago, I think what wasn’t clear was that as a driver of economic development, we couldn’t see how that fit into our mission because we were so used to to hear about affordable housing in the context of nonprofit organizations,” she said.
Village director Josué Salmerón also expressed support for Lackovich-Van Gorp’s presentation.
“I wholeheartedly agree with everything Dirk has said about stack funding,” he said. “I add to the company’s need for this [that] you have an economic problem when employers can’t find employees because the working class has been overvalued by the community.
“These are exactly the issues we face,” replied Dino Pallotta, YSDC member and local business owner. “[It’s] just not realistic for what we can afford [employees], and if they live in town, we’re just not going to pay the salary. That’s just the reality of the business.
Before ending his presentation, Lackovich-Van Gorp also asked people to reconsider the terminology of housing affordability as “workforce housing.”
“I don’t particularly like those kinds of terms,” he said. “You start looking at this and you realize there are a lot of young professionals who can’t afford to live here – teachers, village workers, police officers, firefighters. And when you start losing those people from your community, in addition to the people who are dedicated to working at Tom’s or at the pharmacy, at Dino’s or at the hotels, [you lose] the economic engine that drives this place.
In conclusion, Lackovich-Van Gorp again stressed the need for larger-scale projects – a sentiment with which Salmerón agreed.
“We can’t solve this housing problem one original Yellow Springs house at a time,” he said.