I just wanted to open up a discussion about affordable housing. The prices in our community on South Whidbey

Asked by Shellie Moore, Langley, WA Fri Mar 21, 2008

Island are gettiung so high that working class folks are having a hard time buying here. We need economic diversity for a healthy community. I was encouraged to go to a community forum about this topic last week which was very well attended and full of hopeful energy. A land trust was discussed, low income rentals, Home sharing, mobile home parks, Habitat, and Self-Help Housing (USDA program) among other ideas.
Has anyone out there in Trulia world been involved with organizing to get more affordable housing into their community? Have any great ideas to share with us?
thanks, Shellie

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Khazeem Asad…, , Dallas, TX
Fri Mar 21, 2008
Ms. or Mrs. Moore,

your concerns and positions are on point. What Mr. Tepper said does express the views of some, but it is only a view because we were made to believe that homes increase in value as they get older. This is simply false. Foundations crack, roofs fall apart, walls get holes, plumbing goes bad, and termites eat them up, etc., etc. However, once we realize that overpriced housing actually hurts the community and not help it, things may change.

I am currently organizing to build affordable housing in New Orleans, which is where I am originally from. And the problem that I am having is that no one wants affordable housing except those that can't afford $1500 per month, or above, mortgages. The Secondary Markets, or the Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) has been so profitable to big businesses that they will do whatever they must to protect their interest. Although, that market is crumbling as I type this.

What I'm trying to say is that this problem is political. In my experience, I am not actually impeded in any way from building affordable homes in New Orleans, but I have no help from the authorities, banks won't loan me any money to build because their "bottom line" will not benefit as much from such deals, and without the "grease money" for the city officials, they will not do anything to help me.

This is a thing that must be done by the people, and all of your ideas are good, especially the land trust. If you shall organize and you need help getting the actual project off the ground, contact me...... I can help you there.

Khazeem Asadullah
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Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Fri Mar 21, 2008
Without addressing the merits of affordable housing, you may find that many homeowners are opposed to "affordable" (that is, less expensive than their own) housing being constructed in their communities. They express concern about the lower values affecting their home prices. And some also express concern about the residents in the affordable housing. Thus, you'll often find general support for affordable housing--just NIMBY (not in my back yard).

One thing some communities--and individual employers--have done is to expedite transportation between areas of more affordable housing and the locations that people work. A while ago, I worked for an association representing janitorial and custodial companies. And the problem many of them face is that the buildings they clean are in upscale areas....way too expensive for someone earning $8-$10 an hour to live. Not all the workers had cars; some needed to rely on public transportation...which isn't always reliable, and isn't always affordable, either. So some of the employers set up van pools, bringing in their workers from their homes 20, 30, or more miles away.

And recognize that while housing prices are a major barrier to the economic diversity you're seeking, you also need the jobs and support services for the residents. In some areas, for instance, it might be desirable if the schools offer ESOL programs. Or health screening programs and clinics. Such programs may be a benefit to your community in any case, but might be even more important as you seek to seek to maintain and expand the diversity of your community.

Hope that helps.
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