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Condos, townhomes supplement Boise’s tiny supply of affordable single-family homes

This three-bedroom home at 1927 N. Raymond St., off West Fairview Avenue, was one of only two Boise single-family homes listed for sale earlier this week for less than $200,000. By Friday, a listing with the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service showed a sale is pending.
This three-bedroom home at 1927 N. Raymond St., off West Fairview Avenue, was one of only two Boise single-family homes listed for sale earlier this week for less than $200,000. By Friday, a listing with the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service showed a sale is pending. jsowell@idahostatesman.com

Boise has few single-family homes left for sale for less than $200,000. But a spokesman for Mayor Dave Bieter said Friday that there are townhomes and condominiums — and those are types of housing that the city is trying to encourage.

Just two single-family homes were listed Wednesday in Boise by the Multiple Listing Service, said a real estate agent who checked the listings for the Statesman. The agent, Scott Barbee, said Friday that an offer on one of the houses has been accepted, and that four other houses have come on the market.

Eleven condos and six townhouses also listed for sale Friday for less than $200,000, according to the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service. There were also a few foreclosed properties going up for auction.

Affordability is worsening in Boise and Meridian. The median sales price for all homes in Ada County is now almost $300,000, a record high, according to the MLS. The median in Canyon County is almost $200,000.

Mayoral spokesman Mike Journee said Bieter and the City Council want more affordable housing.

“The city’s posture on housing is that it must be as dense as possible — to improve walkability, livability and protect open space — and be as diverse as possible in housing types and price point,” he said. “We have been making progress on the first goal for several years now. However, the second is elusive, given the extremely low vacancy rates.”

Today, fewer than half of the homes for which the city issues permits are single-family homes, Journee said: “An intentional focus for the past 10 years is to create higher density in our city using housing types other than single-family homes.”

Creating more housing would help ease price increases, he said, and the city has the land to meet its housing needs if the land is developed based on allowable zoning density.

But high-density development projects sometimes draw opposition.

More than 300 people turned out Tuesday for a meeting in Northwest Boise to fight a developer’s plan to build more than 300 homes, many of them townhouses, along West Hill Road Parkway. And when neighbors fought proposed apartments on Warm Springs Avenue in East Boise, the city objected, so the developer scrapped the idea and substituted $500,000 homes — a proposal that neighbors, and the City Council, found more to their liking.

The city has few tools to rein in prices, Journee said. It cannot impose an option tax, for example, to pay for housing subsidies.

The city continues to pursue additional efforts, he said. “We’ve made a commitment to the City Council to come back to them at least three times over the next several months to have a really deep strategic conversation about housing,” he said.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell

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