Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dilution is not the solution!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! and a belated Happy St. Urho's Day!

The Star Tribune has an editorial today about Sobering news on affordable housing in the Twin Cities. The demand keeps outstripping the supply. They also note the debate about locational factors for affordable housing. One thing they didn't mention, and I'm not sure if Myron Orfield or the Metro Council have adequately taken into account when considering where to locate affordable housing, is the location of jobs, shopping and other requirements of daily life in relation to housing. The Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago has some thought-provoking information on what happens to "affordable" housing that's located in suburbs where families need two or more cars. You can see a "fact sheet" for the Twin Cities metro area at this link. For the Average Household, 28% of their income goes to housing and an additional 20% goes to transportation. If you look at a map of costs for the Twin Cities metro area, the pale yellow shade that indicates locations where housing + transportation costs are less than 45% of a typical household income have very scattered locations in the suburbs, most are within the 694-494 beltway. Here's that map link. As a region and a state, we're making a notable investment in public transportation. We're not keeping up with the demand for affordable housing. We are, by most of the accounts I've seen, a car-dependant area.

houses for people or cars?
houses for people or cars?
Photo by J. Harrington

To put this into some perspective, for new construction in the Twin Cities Metro Area in 2014, the National Association of Home Builders notes the median price was $336,496, the income needed to quality was $89,372 and for every $1,000 increase in the price of a new home, more than 2,000 families were "priced out." The CNT analysis is based on a household income in the $65,000 to $66,000 range. It looks to me as though the affordability question has to include location, the need for how many? garages in areas well served by transit (we can talk about what that means), increases in minimum wages and, perhaps, targeting affordable housing near employment centers. Long ago I was taught that dilution is not the solution to pollution. Deconcentration of affordable housing primarily to disburse concentrations of poverty is too simplistic a solution. We can do better. We must do better.

An hour is not a house

By Jane Hirshfield 
An hour is not a house,
a life is not a house,
you do not go through them as if
they were doors to another.

Yet an hour can have shape and proportion,
four walls, a ceiling.
An hour can be dropped like a glass.

Some want quiet as others want bread.
Some want sleep.

My eyes went
to the window, as a cat or dog left alone does.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.