We want to ensure that developers build the affordable units that our ordinance requires to a standard that is similar to their market rate units but we are not sure it makes sense to require that they be identical. Is there some way to allow for reasonable flexibility that leading to substandard affordable units?
As long as the affordable units are built to the locally applicable building code, look reasonably similar on the exterior and provide reasonable appliances and trim they are acceptable here in NJ. We can't ask for comprable fitting out as the units already cost more to build than is realized through rental or sale.
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Center for Housing Policy have compiled a brief overview of strategies that local jurisdictions have adopted to design and enforce comparability requirements for affordable and market-rate units in mixed-income developments, based on interviews with IZ administrators and questionnaires submitted by practitioners across the country.
Specific approaches include building flexibility into the program to ensure units meet appropriate standards without damaging developers' bottom line, creating a checklist of "livability guidelines" that must be fulfilled, and working with developers to develop custom solutions to comparability requirements. Please see the attached document for more details.