LETTER: Living-wage jobs key to affordable housing

Posted 7/4/17

Jefferson County commissioners are getting ready to have a property tax levy passed to fund “affordable” housing without considering the causes of this problem. In fact, they are declaring a …

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LETTER: Living-wage jobs key to affordable housing

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Jefferson County commissioners are getting ready to have a property tax levy passed to fund “affordable” housing without considering the causes of this problem. In fact, they are declaring a housing emergency so they can exceed the 1 percent limit on property taxes.

Focusing on affordable housing without considering the cause is only looking at part of the picture. Rather than fix the underlying problems the county caused, they want to waste taxpayer dollars in an effort that cannot make housing affordable.

Subsidizing housing does not make it affordable; it just shifts the bill to the taxpayers. A subsidy may help someone feel more comfortable, but real respect and dignity only come from what an individual has achieved.

Affordability is a balance between cost and ability to pay. So, it is clear that jobs are a major part of the equation.

Jefferson County has zoning, building codes, regulations and permit processes that are among the most restrictive and costly in the state. This affects business operations, company facilities and housing. They must be fixed.

It is time to expand the areas zoned for businesses that will provide high- paying jobs, such as light manufacturing and all the skilled trades. Larger-sized buildings must be allowed.

These improvements will provide an environment encouraging businesses that pay higher wages to locate or expand here and will add significantly to living-wage jobs in Jefferson County.

Areas zoned for smaller housing units – such as apartment units, condos and townhouses – must be expanded. This would entice private contractors and private investors to provide housing at lower cost.

A subsidy only maintains the current conditions and will have to continue forever.

Without well-paying jobs, housing will never be affordable.

GENE FARR

Jefferson County

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