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Affordable Housing - a Complicated Matter

About a year ago, I met with the CEO of the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce. He commented that it was his view that one of the biggest challenges that Henderson County (and most of Western NC) has is a way to house the working poor.

To be clear, this politician knows that this is not an easily solved problem. Many a developer will seek out tax incentives to dedicate a certain percentage of a housing complex they want to build to the provision of affordable units. That doesn't always please the lenders who want to see profitability to help guarantee their loan. They may insist that a well intended builder cut down on "affordable" units.

Too, there is a distinct difference between workforce housing (units dedicated to people who serve the community like firemen and police officers - courageous public servants who don't ever get paid adequately for the good work they do.)

Communities work hard to support workforce housing, but Section 8 housing (affordable housing for people who struggle with personal financial health) doesn't always seem real glamorous to builders and bankers.

It is my recommendation that absent affordable housing, we must find a way to pay people a living wage, so that minimum wage earners can afford that which is available. Absent that, we must find a way to build public/private partnerships and zone our communities in such a fashion as to find building affordable housing ... more affordable. And lending institutions need to know that their investment in building housing for the people will be protected.

Everyone needs to have a roof over their head which doesn't impoverish them. Too, they need to not be pushed out of poor traditional neighborhoods because of gentrification. Gentrification is often an effort to buy properties at low ball prices ... taking advantage of people struggling with poverty. They get a few bucks and then become displaced. Shame on those developers!

A home is a minimum requirement for the dignity of every parent and security for their children. We must do more and we can do better.

Bossert for State Senate
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