Saturday, April 2, 2016

Dear Chris Rickert, Lack of affordable housing is a popular* problem

*As in "of or relating to the general public".

Madison isn't 'special' in this regard.

When most people hear the words "affordable housing," Paulette Coleman says, they think it means only Section 8 and vouchers — something that applies only to those living in poverty. That is not the case. "What we discovered is that teachers, police officers, hospital workers, hospitality and service industry workers cannot afford to live in Nashville," says Coleman, an AME church leader active in local politics and social justice causes. "Basically, with things being what they are now, a single person has to make, I think, about $50,000 to be able to afford a market-rate apartment in the city."

The Boise Ada County Housing Authority says the problem goes beyond the shortfall in the number of affordable homes, but involves a shortfall in funding as well. "There is not enough funding in our community to support the need," said. Jillian Patterson. The Housing Authority administers $12 million for rental assistance for 2,200 families, but Patterson says the need is much greater.

Here, as in neighborhoods across Houston, gentrification has edged out longtime residents, lured in people who are younger, more affluent and mostly white, and driven up home values and property taxes. It is making neighborhoods like Shady Acres unaffordable not only for working-class folks but - increasingly - for middle-class families like the Beneses.

Civic leaders in Tillamook County and elsewhere on the coast have known for years that housing was a growing problem. But unlike in urban areas, the rural county lacks a dedicated housing agency, coastal development often doesn't pencil out and the cash-strapped county government has the resources for "only the very most basic functions," said Erin Skaar, executive director at the Tillamook nonprofit Community Action Resource Enterprises.

When Scott first arrived he found a one-bedroom house in the Central District neighborhood for $500 a month. In 1999, he started working at Swedish Medical Center as a radiology assistant and moved to a $700-a-month studio apartment not far from the center on First Hill, willing to trade a little extra cost and a little less space for the convenience of walking just a few blocks to work each day. Over the years, his rent started creeping up, as rents tend to do in growing economies. A few years ago, facing down the barrel of a $1,100-a-month studio, Scott decided he could no longer afford the city he loved.

I could go on and on and on.

Related reading:
America has an affordable housing crisis.  (attn:, 1/2/2016)

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