Rain is wet, and region’s houses are not affordable

Your Sept 25 front page story covered the release of a regional housing study. A few days later you posted the article to Facebook.

Many of the responses were similar, perhaps best summarized by the wit who posted: “Rain is wet, says the headline.”

The report found what many of us live. There is a growing shortage of single-family homes selling at an “affordable” price. Download the full report from the Partnership for Economic Progress website at pepedo.org.

Last January, your editorial board opined about what “affordable” might mean. Federal housing programs provide a definition. Housing is affordable when it costs no more than 30 percent of the gross household income.

Indeed rain is wet and our community has a housing shortage.

Further, some aspire to own a home, but with present wages and home prices, that seems unattainable. The challenge is many local jobs, some full time with benefits, do not pay enough to meet the 30-percent definition.

In a market like ours, many in the workforce cannot purchase an “affordable” house without a subsidy. No amount of building inexpensively helps. The market values houses based on things like square feet and number of bedrooms. Building very small house, tiny houses, might get the price down to “affordable,” but the resulting house may not serve the needs of the would-be buyer.

An idea on Page 20 of the report was missed by your reporter. There is a proven strategy to address the affordability subsidy problem: The Community Land Trust.

The CLT retains ownership of the land, selling only the “improvements.” The value of the land is held out of the transaction, potentially saving the buyer $30,000-$40,000. That subsidy is a community investment that remains permanently with the affordable house.

Moscow Affordable Housing Trust is building three CLT homes to be sold later this winter.

Nils Peterson

executive director, Moscow Affordable Housing Trust, Moscow

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