Housing for All

Having adequate housing at all income levels is a significant concern of those who participated in The ReNewton Project. Nearly 87 percent of respondents to a 2010 City survey report that the City needs to address housing issues.

Embracing Older Neighborhoods

The comprehensive plan encourages the improvement and maintenance of older housing stock. Approximately 55 percent of North Newton and 83 percent of Newton housing stock (based on the 2000 census) is over 40 years old.

The comp plan recommends the City participate in state programs for first-time homebuyers and homeowner rehabilitation, as well as support nonprofit and faith-based organizations involved with housing repair. It also encourages the City to provide capital improvement funds for sidewalks, streetlights, curbs, and gutters, in addition to stormwater improvements and water line maintenance and upgrades for older neighborhoods.

The plan also says the City should remove extreme cases of visual blight and substandard housing.

Planning New Housing

When planning new housing districts, the plan encourages the City to design mixed-use developments, not just subdivision plats. This includes creating neighborhoods with a variety of housing — ranging from single-family residences to townhomes and apartments — as well as planning for parks and civic spaces, schools, fire stations, and neighborhood retail centers. Such neighborhoods should plan for pedestrian movement (sidewalks, linear trails, and bikeways), shade trees, and distinctive entry signage.

Addressing Rentals

Nearly 40 percent of respondents to the City survey reported that the community has a problem with rental housing, and 80 percent of respondents believe the City needs to deal with housing issues. Many young professionals and families who participated in the survey reported problems finding adequate rental housing to meet their wants and needs.

Thus, the comp plan encourages the City to create a task force to design a rental inspection or registration program, and to adopt the 2009 International Property Maintenance Code, to ensure rental properties meet certain basic standards.

Maximizing Senior Housing

Although helping seniors age in place is not a traditional city government function, the Baby Boomer generation is aging along with much of the community’s housing stock. Therefore, the plan proposes that City leadership play a role in convening stakeholders from the fields of health care, public health, public transportation, social services, and welfare to encourage collaboration and coordination.

The plan also suggests zoning laws be adjusted to allow for multi-generational families to be housed together. Senior citizens can provide day care and general stability to neighborhoods, while young people can be of assistance to seniors. One option is to allow accessory dwelling units (private and complete housing units in or adjacent to single-family homes) and senior-friendly housing in neighborhoods zoned for single-family housing.

Lastly, for those seniors not able (or not wanting) to live on their own, the plan recommends City leadership and the Chamber of Commerce work with Newton’s excellent retirement communities to market and promote retirement living options within the community. This also doubles as a form of economic development.

Insights

“There are a lot of amenities in Newton that are attractive to retirees. First of all, you have the small-town environment. You have a wonderful medical community, you have easy parking, you have no freeways…it's a wonderful environment for retirees.”
— Cindy Vanover, executive director of Kidron Bethel Retirement Services, and ReNewton steering committee member

“Our older neighborhoods tend to be closer to downtown. They’re walkable. They’re green, if you will. That’s why I enjoy living in an older neighborhood here in the Newton community, simply because my wife and I are able to walk places. So I would say one of the key reasons for preserving our older neighborhoods is to provide that kind of lifestyle option to people in our community.”
— Barth Hague, steering committee member