Locally owned. Supported by members.

Gov. Little interview: first-time homebuyers’ credit could help affordability issue

Fast in the Morning

Editor’s note: This is part of a six-part series of stories on our interview with Gov. Brad Little. Additional stories will appear all this week.

Idaho Governor Brad Little discussed growth, transportation and the interaction between state and local governments in a wide-ranging interview with BoiseDev.com this week.

It is the new governor’s first in-depth interview on growth-related issues since his inauguration last month.

Housing costs in the Treasure Valley are rising rapidly – both for renters and homeowners. According to Zillow, the median list price in Boise for a home more than doubled from December of 2012 to December of 2018 – from $150,000 to $329,000.

The increase is also impacting renters. According to RentCafe, the average rent in Boise has increased by nearly 20% in the past two years.

- Story continues below ads -
Paddles Up Poke
Regence Blue Shield Idaho

The full audio of the 30-minute interview is available in podcast form for members of BoiseDev FIRST as an exclusive benefit of membership. Listen now or sign up for access. Hear his full thoughts on growth, transportation, climate change, urban renewal and more.

While folks who have lived in Idaho a long time are feeling the pinch, Little said our lower rates in comparison to other areas is in part driving the growth rate.

“We all complain we indigenous side owns about the cost of housing but everybody I know is moving here just can’t talk enough about how affordable housing is,” he said. “When I talked to my friends in the technology industry that’s one of their best pieces of bait (to attract business) is affordable housing. “

But ‘affordable,’ is relative he says.

“What’s affordable housing to somebody that’s in Seattle Austin or California is unaffordable to us. “

Little touted the idea of a First Time Homebuyers Savings Account. He said the program could make a big impact for getting people into homes early in their lives.

“It does two things. A, it gets people in houses earlier and b, it plants the seed in people’s mind that it’s important to save money,” he said.

The concept would allow individuals to save up to $3,000 each year to apply toward buying their first home. A couple filing jointly could save up to $6,000. The funds would be tax free, allowing folks to get into homes without giving a chunk of cash to state government on money they saved for a down payment.

“There’ll be a little (budget) impact because it’ll be a little less income tax coming into the pool. But it’s still the right incentive to the right people.”

During a speech to the Building Owners and Managers Association in Boise Tuesday, Mayor Dave Bieter mentioned the Idaho Housing Trust Fund. The legislature established it in 1992, but in the 27 years since has not provided any funding.

“A trust fund with money isn’t a trust fund at all,” Bieter said. “It’s not helping, obviously.”

He said the City of Boise is working to launch a trust fund of its own dedicated to affordable housing – with $10 million in public dollars and $10 million in private contributions.

“If we can getting it working here, maybe we can get it going beyond just Boise,” the mayor said.

During our interview Monday, Little said on the state level, he would consider a funding mechanism if a proposal moved forward.

“If somebody would propose put money into it I’d look at it,” Little said. “But it’s competing with education funding and what we’re doing in corrections and mental health and in Medicaid expansion and it’s just one of those issues that we got to compete with a lot of other great causes. “

Little did say the Idaho Department of Housing and Finance also provides a number of programs that can help with housing affordability.

“They provide quite a bit of affordable housing opportunities,” Little said. “Not near as much as everybody would like but there they do a good job.”

Gov. Brad Little on Idaho’s growth

This story is part of a special six-part series, outlining how Idaho’s new governor looks at issues related to growth. BoiseDev FIRST members get access to a special podcast containing the full interview with the governor.

Love our stories? Get them delivered straight to your inbox each afternoon. Plus, support BoiseDev's independent journalism.

Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

BPD Chief: Boise needs to add 40 to 50 police officers

Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee says the city is dozens of officers behind its peer cities across the country.

Organizers: McLean and Sanchez recall effort suspended

The board to recall Mayor Lauren McLean and City Council Member Lisa Sanchez voted to suspend the signature drive.

McLean names committee to lead rewrite of Boise zoning code

Boise's zoning code is getting a revamp over the next several years. On Thursday, the City of Boise...

Clerk: Recall petitions for McLean, Sánchez miss deadline for November, could appear on March ballot

The efforts to recall Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and city council Member Lisa Sánchez won’t appear on the November ballot. 

Popular

Sun Valley Resort releases winter plan: tweaks and adjustments

Sun Valley Resort released its plan for the upcoming winter season. As in past years, Sun Valley plans...

CenturyLink will change its name – but you may or may not see it

As the CenturyLink turns. We told you last week that the company would leave its Downtown Boise office space....

Boise-based Cradlepoint gets new owner in huge billion-dollar deal

A Boise-based company will get a new parent company, and its owners will get $1.1 billion in their pockets.

Owners apply to tear down Boise Bench office building

A 1960s office building on the Boise Bench with a unique look could soon disappear. The Clint-Graham Center at...

Meridian-area bakery/cafe locations go up for sale

Two area bakery and cafe locations just hit the market. The owners of the Great Harvest Bakery Cafe stores in Meridian...

Costco sets opening date for new Meridian store

The Treasure Valley will soon include three Costco Wholesale stores. Costco Meridian has an opening date. Just in time...

Related

Boise looks to buy large piece of foothills land from governor’s family with levy funding

The City of Boise said Monday it hopes to buy about half a square mile of land in the Boise foothills, using...

Idaho doesn’t meet metrics, will remain in stage four of COVID recovery plan

By Katie Kloppenburg / Idaho News 6 The Gem State is remaining in stage...

‘A big hairy piece of ground:’ Idaho considers land swap on Payette Lake

By Kevin Richert / Idaho Ed News The state Land Board set the stage Tuesday for a detailed review of endowment...

COVID-19, where things stand: With stage 4 starting, numbers edge up, officials warn of bar “cluster”

Yesterday, Gov. Brad Little announced Idaho would move to stage four of the state's reopening plan. In a news release later...

Latest

Boise-based Cradlepoint gets new owner in huge billion-dollar deal

A Boise-based company will get a new parent company, and its owners will get $1.1 billion in their pockets.

Sun Valley Resort releases winter plan: tweaks and adjustments

Sun Valley Resort released its plan for the upcoming winter season. As in past years, Sun Valley plans...

Boise utility companies enact payment plans instead of utility shut-offs

Some of Boise’s major utility companies started to ease back into collections after months of holding off due to COVID-19. 

Pizza restaurant popular in North End eyes SE Boise location

A pizza restaurant in Boise's North End could open a new location. Lulu’s Pizza, which currently operates at 2594...

CenturyLink will change its name – but you may or may not see it

As the CenturyLink turns. We told you last week that the company would leave its Downtown Boise office space....

Meridian-area bakery/cafe locations go up for sale

Two area bakery and cafe locations just hit the market. The owners of the Great Harvest Bakery Cafe stores in Meridian...