03/24/2009: "Letter On Affordable Housing"
To the County Council:
The County’s Housing element is severely lacking in encouraging private sector participation. Efforts to encourage private participation have been sidelined. In the bank crisis, the Federal government has recognized the important role private sector investors and a free market plays in solving the problem.
Much of the energy behind the plan has come from those who are unwilling or unable to consider any solutions not government directed and funded by taxpayers. Their direction has been to seek authority from the Council to force current residents and a broad category of taxpayers to provide the future housing needs.
CREATION OF A LOCAL INDEPENDENT HOUSING AUTHORITY
An independent local housing authority has significant power, including the power of condemnation. This should concern the Council and our citizens.
To the County Council:
When a Housing Authority accepts Federal and State funds, there is little or no local control as to who actually gets the housing. Housing is available to anyone from anywhere who wishes to apply. We could find ourselves importing folks who think they would rather have their government housing provided in the islands than in a mainland city. This should concern the Council and our citizens.
The resources available for a Housing Authority are primarily directed toward very low or low income folks; those currently served by our non-profit housing organizations. A Housing Authority is generally not able to use public funds to address the housing needs of middle income working families such as County employees, OPALCO workers or those employed in the trades. This should concern the Council and our citizens.
Proponents believe that new taxes and fees can provide money for their projects. Increased fees and taxes will be opposed by local citizens in the current economic environment. This should concern the Council and our citizens.
HOME OWNERSHIP AND RENTALS
Home ownership is an earned responsibility, not a right. Ownership takes a certain amount of maturity, planning and savings. There are many people where rental is the most appropriate option. The County Housing Element should put more emphasis on the development of rental housing.
Summary: Collin has done a fine job. There is no doubt that appropriate, affordable and suitable housing is an important, well studied and well quantified local issue. A separate and independent Housing Authority could be problematic. More emphasis should be given to non-government funded solutions.