Bold Leadership – Tips for KU – Affordable Housing
Posted by bsflag2007 on Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Ok – so I may not have been completely honest in my “about me” post.
I do have interests beyond education issues. In fact, my “professional experience” from a hundred years ago was, actually, in urban planning and real estate development.
After public education – I consider property ownership the most important and uniquely American path to independence, social equality, and the survival of our republic.
The ability, the prospect, the “hope” of one day owning a “home of one’s own” – is what drives the American Dream…. and with home ownership comes a deeper level of awareness, participation and investment in the community, the country and the future.
Mr. Ulman is in a mighty exciting position. Howard County is at a crossroads —decisions Ulman’s administration makes will determine whether HoCo becomes “just another” overcrowded, poorly planned, mess of patchwork housing, commerce and education along with a diminshed quality of life — or whether HoCo becomes a model of community, livability, and opportunity to be copied and envied around the country…. maybe even around the world.
Of course, there is the third option – delay, stagnation, lack of progress (which imho is preferable to proceeding full speed ahead on the wrong track).
Some suggestions for Ulman and his team. Break some new ground! Literally and figuratively. There are many ways to approach the “affordable housing” dilemma — although there really aren’t any “tried and true” models to copy. Most previous efforts are cautionary tales, at best-
with the exception of the Habitat for Humanity concept (which is currently in need of a little tweaking, but that is happening). Apply those concepts to public projects — and we have a start.
Modest housing, individual “worthy” owners, eliminate speculators through restrictions on selling/profit- rent controls — there are ways to do all these things that are not predicated on denying anyone’s proerty rights — or giving undue preference to any group or individual — it just takes some vision, some LEADERSHIP, some creativity, and some good old fashioned “persuasion”.
I’ll give you one example/suggestion.
Developer wants to build. Zoning limits number of houses. Compromise … certain number of lots are built as “modest homes” and conveyed to “community housing preservation society” which finds prescreened buyers of “modest means”. The buyers have ownership interest and rights — with limitations on selling, for example – can only sell to “preservation society” for “profit” determined by predetermined formula … whatever current “affordable” price is. Upkeep, maintenance, etc – contractually required…. recourse in case of criminal activities on site.
Infill lots — homeowner wants to subdivide tiny little lot. OK, but house must go into program, or premium paid to program to acquire other lots.
Mixed use facilities…. including professional offices, grocery stores, resturaunts, elderly housing, special needs housing, municipal worker housing… etc.
Police, teachers, firefighters, etc- part of their contract negotiations … incentives to live in certain areas.
Just a few ideas. The questions that come up can either be posed as “why this won’t work” or “how can we make this work” questions.
The important things — everyone wants responsible, law abiding neighbors. Everyone wants home ownership, financial security as the goal. No one wants to disporportionately support others, but are mostly willing to participate in programs which are beneficial to the community. Everyone wants to live in a nice, comfortable, clean, safe community with good schools, good health care, clean air, open space, recreational opportunities, and opportunity for the future.