Commissioners Deserve Praise on Affordable Housing

Guest Correspondence

Last month we wrote a column on the importance of considering government fees and how they impact affordable housing. Those fees do not magically get absorbed by a developer; they get passed along to the homeowner in the cost of housing. We asked governments to consider how fees impact affordable housing when they are looking at raising them. 

I am pleased to report the county commission has recently done just that, and they took it one step further and asked staff for the details on how a fee increase will affect affordable housing. An advisory board requested the hiking of a fee in a recommendation to the county commission. Not only was there a pause by some of the members of the county commission, but they asked for a specific explanation on how raising the fees will affect affordable housing.

Using an issue filter of how an action like raising fees will affect another issue, like affordable housing, is not something normally considered in government. Usually, ordinances and resolutions focus on a specific problem without consideration of how it will impact other issues. It is not a system built for understanding the ramification of legislation on other issues. It is a system that solves a specific problem, many times in a vacuum.

Thinking differently about legislation and how it affects affordable housing requires vigilance and constant attention that is very hard to do, especially when you have 50 items on a typical county commission agenda. But the more the county commission talks about it, and uses it as a filter for legislation, the bigger message it sends to staff that they need to operate with an affordable housing filter for all issues as well.

This is an important example for local governments and one that should be emulated by the municipalities. Affordable Housing needs to be the lens through which all legislation is contemplated.

The examination of how a legislative action might affect affordable housing was a great thing, and we hope a habit, that will continue with all future fees and legislation coming from all local levels of government. This needs to be expanded and considered with not just fees, but with regulations and even procedures.

The Argus Foundation congratulates the county commission for its attentiveness to affordable housing and we encourage more watchfulness. Affordable Housing is the number one issue affecting our community. Actions like this from the county commission prove that the commission understands it and is doing everything it can to make sure they don’t worsen the problem. Thank you, commissioners, for your attentiveness to this issue.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.

 

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