Attributes of first suburbs include a sense of place, proximity to urban and suburban amenities and quality schools. However, aging homes often have maintenance problems, and many don't include features modern homebuyers are looking for — two-car garages, large bedrooms, functional bathrooms, modern kitchens and plenty of closet space. An aging housing stock presents challenges in competing with newer suburbs for residential and retail development.
For this reason, the First Suburbs Coalition has made housing rehabilitation one of its top priorities. First suburbs must make a concerted effort to improve their housing stock to attract new residents, encourage current citizens to remain, and revitalize the sense of place and pride in the community.
Checklists for local governments
Building codes regulate how structures are built and renovated. This checklist walks through assessing and updating residential building codes to better accommodate rehabilitation projects.
Zoning ordinances regulate how structures sit on a site, how far they must be from the street and neighbors, and how much of the lot can be used by the structure. This checklist walks through assessing a zoning ordinance for ways it inhibits rehabilitation and suggests changes that can foster residential remodeling.
It can be expensive to rehabilitate a home, and conventional financing options are often better suited to new construction. This checklist walks through an assessment of private and public financing resources and incentives available to homeowners and buyers.
Although removing barriers and providing resources are important ways to encourage residential rehabilitation, there are other strategies a community can consider.