Monday, February 2, 2015

Problem Or Opportunity?

Today The News & Record is reporting on how Mayor Nancy Barakat Vaughan and Councilwoman Sharon Hightower are bemoaning the lack of affordable housing in Greensboro as if it were something that just happened over night.

“The loss of Heritage House and the struggle to find a place for the residents there, that really showed us how little affordable housing there is in the city,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said. “Ideally, we’d like to be working with landlords and property owners to keep up these properties rather than losing them.”

Might I remind you that it was the decision of Mayor Vaughan and City Council to close Heritage House rather than work out a solution.

 “It’s not news to me that the housing stock is disappearing and that the housing stock that is being built is absolutely outside of a lot of people’s budgets,” Hightower said. “We need to be strict and get these landlords to keep these properties up. We have to get them to pay these fines, but we’ve also got to work with them to keep some of these properties whole. It doesn’t do us any good to lose them and to create holes in the community.”

But even Sharon Hightower as she advocates for the poor still doesn't get it: The solution to low cost housing isn't rental properties that continue to forever put working class dollars into the pockets of the wealthy-- the solution to low cost housing is and always has been home ownership as homeowners gain equity in their homes while renters stay poor for the rest of their lives.

Councilwoman Hightower may not realize it but what she is really doing is advocating to keep the poor poor and the rich richer.

One possible solution was one I proposed on November 24 2013 when I wrote:

 "Tiny houses cost less to build, less to heat, less to cool and less to maintain than larger houses. Presumably they would cost less to buy making them perfect as starter homes for young families-- the people Greensboro leaders claim to want to attract to Greensboro.
Tiny homes require less space which means more space for vegetable gardens and shops for work at home artists, inventors and craftspeople-- more of the creative class Greensboro claims to want to attract. And with Greensboro being the 3rd hungriest city in America I would think our leaders would be thinking long and hard about more vegetable gardens.

Tiny houses could also be used to more easily house the elderly in independent living communities. If you think there's not a market for tiny houses you're just not thinking it through. The only thing standing in the way are city imposed building codes that set too big a minimum size for most homes in most neighborhoods."

Since no one got it the first time 'round I'll explain it again: City Council controls zoning ordinances that determine how small a house can be-- State and Federal codes are much smaller than is currently allowed in Greensboro.

A factory manufacturing these tiny homes would put lots of people to work and be a boon to our local economy.

Communities zoned for smaller homes could be established and organizations could be set up to make financing available.

These houses would be places on permanent foundations like in the picture and not on wheels so we wouldn't be building trailer parks.

Get it?

What does it take to get these people to wake up and see the opportunities biting them on their asses? And no one ever said it had to be at White Street, that was just a suggestion.