IFF & Blue Valley Residents: Gateway East approval would lead to a loss of affordable housing

Lindsay Atkinson Articles

Boise, ID—Residents of the Blue Valley manufactured home park are concerned that they may lose their affordable housing, at a time when there is a housing crisis unfolding in the city of Boise.

On December 11, city council will consider the creation of the Gateway East urban renewal district. This proposed district would encompass over 3,000 acres, including the land that lays beneath these manufactured homes. The residents of these 200 manufactured homes are the only homeowners in the would-be district and the council’s decision on Tuesday night could have dire consequences for these Boiseans.

“These are the only homeowners in this potential district and the city should listen closely to their concerns,” said Lindsay Atkinson, the Local Government Policy Analyst at the Idaho Freedom Foundation. “Boise should not use taxpayer resources to encourage industrial development while the city is experiencing a housing shortage, especially in an area where increased industrialization could jeopardize existing housing.”

Sharon Black and her husband David moved to their manufactured home in July 2018, to be near family. “The proposed [Gateway East] industrial development would be detrimental to the value of our home and our quality of life, Black said “The rapid increase of high housing prices makes housing out of reach for many working families. The city of Boise is in desperate need of safe, affordable housing and can not afford to destroy what is already available.”

Another Blue Valley resident, Charlene Landin, recounts, “The park has been here for 40 years, and I have lived here for nine years. When I moved in, there was nothing around us except the Winco distribution center and a few small buildings.” When talking about the possible effects of industrial development on Blue Valley, Landin notes, “I’m concerned this area is going to go away. My intent moving here was that this would be my last home and I would never have to move again. To me, this is the best affordable housing in Boise.”

Idaho law validates this concern over the loss of affordable housing. Urban renewal law recognizes the connection between urban renewal districts and the displacement of low-income residents. Idaho Code §50-2007 requires urban renewal agencies to “prepare plans for and assist in the relocation of persons, including individuals, families, business concerns, nonprofit organizations and others displaced from an urban renewal area.”

Landin is concerned about displacement, noting, “We pay taxes on homes we own, but we don’t own the property underneath them.” Fellow Blue Valley resident Kim Parks adds, “I am disabled and on Supplemental Security Income. The low-income housing fits my needs.”

IFF’s Atkinson confirms that the Blue Valley residents’ worries are valid, and pressing, as the city makes a decision to approve or deny the Gateway East District. “Blue Valley residents own their manufactured homes, but they do not own the property beneath them. If city councilors approve the Gateway East District, the industrial development that it will rapidly bring to the area will greatly increase the value of the land, which could lead the park owner to sell the land for industrial development. The tax-increment financing system means the Blue Valley residents’ own property tax dollars will go towards pricing themselves out of the market.”