Boise's Housing Goals

Preserving the Past, Planning for the Future

It is no secret that Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Whether you’ve read it in a news report, caught the one-liners on Saturday Night Live, or experienced the change firsthand in the the last few years, Boise’s growth has been notable. Growth brings challenges and opportunities for any city, and Boise is certainly no exception.

In particular, housing inventory in the city has not kept pace with the growth the city has experienced since the recession in 2008. With fewer homes readily available, housing prices in the area have consistently increased year to year. Recognizing this challenge, the City launched a series of Community Conversations on Growth, which occurred over the past year. These conversations gave residents the opportunity to voice their concerns about growth, and they also gave residents the chance to share their thoughts about various proposals aimed at addressing housing affordability.

An inside view of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in the Northend.

Creating Options

After hearing from residents and discussing different options with the community, the city implemented a housing strategy called Grow Our Housing, which aims to improve affordability through expanding the array of housing options available throughout the city.

Creating and accommodating new housing in established neighborhoods and within the Downtown core, however, requires creative thinking and policies that thoughtfully balance Boise’s past with respect to Boise’s future. To this end, Historic Preservation enlists standards aimed at protecting contributing historic properties within established historic districts.

group of people standing outside a house
Ambassadors exploring a local ADU
Group of people posing outside a building
Ambassadors posing in front of The Assay Office, a historic building in downtown Boise.
people walking down a sidewalk
Darin, Jyoni and Katie admiring the historic architecture.

Yet, new developments within established neighborhoods and around that city may challenge aspects of neighborhood character. As one small way of addressing this delicate balance, the city recently amended the Development Code with regard to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). ADUs are a second, smaller dwelling that can be built on a property already occupied by a single-family home. By relaxing limitations on ADUs such as allowing slightly larger units with a second bedroom, the city aims to expand housing options while also maintaining the unique character of various neighborhoods.

Addressing Concerns

Amidst these proposed and realized changes, the city is aware that there are concerns about where more people should live, how the city and the community can preserve the past, and how the city and community can work together to maintain Boise’s unique culture. Managing this careful balance is the work of city planning. As Historic Preservation works to maintain the past, Current and Comprehensive Planning look at where we are and envision where we can be. By working with the community through ongoing conversations, discussing the preservation of the city’s past, and creating policies that are aligned with the broader visions of the community through ongoing outreach, the city hopes to strike a balance between that meets the growing demand for housing while also respecting Boise’s past.

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