Less rigorous building codes, wages lower than union scale, and local tax relief are among the proposals made in a new study for the savings and loan industry on ways to encourage rehabilitation in urban centers.
Nathaniel H. Rogg, former executive vice president of the National Association of Home Builders, looked at housing in 11 cities for the study commissioned by the U.S. League of Savings Associations.
In arguing that building code standards should be set lower for rehabilitated units than for new housing, Rogg cited the example of Chicago, where "building codes are designed for new construction, not rehabilitation." A requirement than electrical outlets beplaced every 12 feet adds some $1,000 to $1,200 to the cost of most rehabilitated units, he said, making that kind of housing too expensice for low-income tenants.
In the area of labor costs Roggs said that in some areas, such as New York and Dallas, there has been evidence of "labor union willingness to participate in rehabilitation by negotiating a lower wage for rehab work." He said this should be "encouraged since it could be a vital factor in heavily unionized areas."
Rogg found that union workers in areas where construction was scarce were eager to take on rehabilitation work at 20 to 25 per cent off scale wages. In his report, he urged that non-union help be employed when possible in inner-city rehabilitation.
Also to be encouraged, he said, was one-stop, "point-of-service city offices to help people with problems related to rehabilitation." Such offices could [TEXT OMMITED FROM SOURCE]
In discussing individual cities, Rogg reserved some of his kindest words for Baltimore. He called it "one of the great success stories of urban revitalization," and attributed its success to the consolidation of its housing programs into a single government department.
Rogg said the District of Columbia's inner-city renewal is one example of what can happen to poor people when wealthy newcomers take over their neighborhoods and rehabilitate them. As one solution, he suggested that federal rental assistance money be used to help those forced to move to find elsewhere better housing.
[TEXT OMMITED FROM SOURCE] work with labor unions and manpower training groups to try to develop a cadre of professionally trained rehabilitation experts, he said.
Rogg also pointed out that St. Louis and othe cities have tax abatement programs that keep the value of rehabilitated units from soaring, making it possible for low- and moderate-income households to continue living in the refurbished housing. Under the St. Louis program, a remodeled unit's assessment remains at what is was before the rehabilitation for a period of 10 years after the work is done. For a 17-year period following, the improvements are assessed at half the normal rate.
Rogg also suggested the establishment of a warrantly program similar to the 10-year one deceloped for new homes by the National Association of Home Builders, increased use of alternative mortgage instruments for moderate-income people, and a national secondary market for rehabilitation loans like the Ginnie Mae market for primary mortgages.