Section 8 crisis

The old joke goes that former first lady Nancy Reagan followed up her “Just Nancy OatesSay No” drug abuse prevention program by tackling homelessness, with “Just Get a House.”

Making decent housing available to people even in the lowest socio-economic categories has no simple solutions. Earlier this month the mayors of Chapel Hill and Carrboro staged a press conference to air their concerns that a number of apartment complex owners will no longer accept Section 8 vouchers. Section 8 is a federal program that makes up the rent difference between what qualified low-income renters can pay and the government’s determination of fair market rent for the area (which is lower than developers’ rent expectations). Because some apartment complex owners decided recently to stop accepting Section 8, about 60 leaseholders in Chapel Hill and Carrboro will have to move once their current lease expires.

In Chapel Hill, some of the affordable housing crisis is of the town leaders’ own making. When Town Council approved a density bonus for Timber Hollow Apartments in April, council members declined to consider linking it to Timber Hollow accepting some Section 8 vouchers. In fact, council approved an SUP with so many loopholes that none of the apartments intended to be rented at a discount as workforce housing will ever be rented at less than market rate.

Council followed that up with its approval of form-based code in the Ephesus-Fordham redevelopment, knowing that hundreds of low-income apartments would be demolished and replaced with luxury units.

Chapel Hill’s economic development officer cuts council members some slack in their development approval decisions. If council were to layer on conditions that eat into developers’ profits, developers might just go elsewhere rather than knuckle under to council’s demands. Bassett said he sees a desire on council’s part for Chapel Hill to be a socio-economically balanced place, but “there’s a disconnect in arriving at that destination.” He plans to involve council in some work sessions in the coming year on housing and economic trends in the area over the past 30 years. “Many failures and unanticipated consequences have come from not thinking policy through,” he said.

A2Z Realty manages some Section 8 units, and Judy Tripp, A2Z’s rental housing specialist, said those units have to be inspected every year and meet Section 8 standards, which don’t seem too restrictive, in her opinion. But if the inspector thinks the carpet is too stained or the place needs painting, the landlord would have to make that investment to continue receiving voucher payments.

Last year, Section 8 lowered the maximum rent it will pay. Eller Capital Partners, which earlier this year bought three apartment complexes totaling about 600 units, declined to say why it no longer accepts Section 8 or whether the lower rent caps had anything to do with it. But given that Eller has more than doubled the rents since it took over, you’d think it would have sufficient profit to continue a small percentage of units accepting Section 8 vouchers.
– Nancy Oates

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41 Comments

  1. Steve

     /  August 18, 2014

    I really wish the whole ‘affordable housing’ issue would be deconstructed to a point that honesty would prevail.

    Not defining what a term means leads to everyone deciding what it means, and nothing gets done. Babel.

    As has been mentioned multiple times by a prominent local builder and noted activist, inadequate ‘affordable housing’ is more a problem of income levels and fixed costs, not of a generic 3rd party seeking to assert control over others by the forced redistribution of income.

    Why is the topic of inadequate income so often left out? I know why … and nobody likes to hear the truth.

    We can also get more honest about the fixed costs, and, people have … although the profit margin percentage for ‘developers’ will be similar to today’s margins, a future market of truly affordable homes yields far fewer dollars in net profit …. when the actual house doesn’t cost what we think it does.

    If housing is really cheaper, then, someone is going to make less money creating it. Fact of economics. What brave person will step forward and agree to make less money creating housing to meet the market need? A developer?

    This is braver than fostering the opposite: who will agree to have more of their money taken from them to give to others? And, who gets to be the controllers in charge of that forcible redistribution?

    See this video for an example of what could be, if the redistributionists would stop trying to assert control over the less-privileged and instead opened their minds to true progressive thought:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RSXv1RoV168

  2. Joseph Jones

     /  August 18, 2014

    Holding a press conference to shame businesses into section 8 is a joke. Here is a better idea. How about elected officials come up with a plan to make affordable housing more attractive to developers? Clearly, the marketplace has spoken. If section 8 was such a great deal, every landlord would accept it. It’s not and they don’t.

  3. many

     /  August 18, 2014

    Steve, I agree with most of what you say. One thing that strikes me though, is that the cost per square foot of living space does not seem that much lower and in fact is higher in some cases. ($29,000/136 SqFt = $213.24 per SqFt).

    I get the less consumption part, but more affordable? Is my calculation off?

  4. Terri

     /  August 18, 2014

    Last time I did any investigation of homes available through the Community Home Trust at East 54, those “affordable” homes were still more expensive on a square foot basis than similarly sized, full-priced homes in Durham. From Zillow: ” The median list price per square foot in Chapel Hill is $161, which is higher than the Durham Metro average of $125.” “The median list price per square foot in Raleigh is $116, which is higher than the Raleigh Metro average of $111.”

    I don’t think we can subsidize ourselves out of this mess–all the attempts to do so are just squeezing the life out of our middle income residents.

  5. Steve

     /  August 18, 2014

    “I get the less consumption part, but more affordable? Is my calculation off?”

    Your calculation isn’t off … but it’s not necessary. Why is the price per square foot relevant?

    What is relevant is the total price.

    Let’s say we can get a 1/6th or 1/8th acre lot, with basic improvements and city water/sewer, for $20,000. Add on a $45,000 micro house. That’s $65,000. With 10% down and special bank participation, you have a monthly 20 year mortgage plus taxes plus insurance of around $800, or, $200 a week for a home that 2 people can live in comfortably. Now, that’s affordable.

    Owners, not renters.
    Equity, not a co-op.
    Land and home, not a community trust.
    Earned, not a hand-out.

    Why do we have compact cars? They are low in cost and affordable to people of limited means. They get you where you need to go.

    So, why can’t we have compact homes?

    Yes, I know, this sort of thing is anathema to current landlords. It is disruptive. I am sorry, but, their business model no longer works.

    Yes, I know, this sort of thing is anathema to current developers. It is disruptive. I am sorry, but, their business model no longer works.

    Yes, I know, this sort of thing is anathema to the ‘helper class’ who live to figure out ways to exert control over others in the guise of being socially ‘aware.’ It is disruptive. I am sorry, but, the rest of us have seen fifty years of the War On Poverty not win and we’re tired of you flushing our money down the drain.

  6. many

     /  August 18, 2014

    Well, First I am not a landlord, and if I had to live in a car I certainly would not choose a compact.

    I am not sure about others, but for me and my family, price per square foot does matter. If I can get (up to a decent size, we are not talking mcMansions here) say 1200 Sq Ft for roughly the same cost, I would. This shows a basic underestimation of the business model on your part.

    The fact remains that you cannot get a 1/4 or 1/8 acre lot and city water/sewer for what amounts to a temporary structure. Zoning would need to change pretty radically for that to happen. Fire insurance and mortgage lending are other of the multitude of issues that would need to be addressed and certainly not at zero cost.

    The fact also remains that Chapel Hill and Carrboro are much more expensive than Durham, Mebane and Pittsboro for the average person. While I see (and agree with) the the “less consumption part”, it’s really the “more affordable” part that is at issue in this thread.

    Lastly, you grossly underestimate the positive effects of the “war on poverty”. I can tell by your comment either you were not around 50 years ago, or you do not know what poverty was then vs. poverty today. Let me assure you the money spent has not been flushed down the drain.

    I know I am not providing a solution other than to live elsewhere, but as much as I would like to have a magic wand, I just don’t have one and sadly neither do you.

  7. Nancy

     /  August 18, 2014

    In developing countries or those with high poverty rates, global corporations that manufacture health and beauty products sell single-use packets of toothpaste and shampoo. Consumers may not be able to buy an entire bottle of shampoo at once, but they can afford to buy small amounts at regular intervals. I think the same could apply to housing. Large metropolitan areas have an increasing number of tiny units to sell or rent at commensurately tiny prices. I’d like to see that become part of Chapel Hill’s housing mix. (I suggested that for Timber Hollow, but neither council nor developer Ron Strom was interested.) Unfortunately for consumers, the biggest profits for developers are in large rentals that don’t cost much more to build than small ones (the most expensive parts to build are kitchens, followed by bathrooms) but can be rented out at very high rates. Would council be open to expedited approval for micro-units for sale or rent?

  8. Bruce Springsteen

     /  August 18, 2014

    I have to say that I got a chuckle when watching that video of the microhouses and noticed they generally seemed to be placed on one acre lots. It’s so us!

  9. Terri

     /  August 18, 2014

    Here’s why cost per square foot matters. Micro-houses are around 80 square feet. For $65,000 you say the monthly mortgage would be around $800. However, you could go to Raleigh, buy a conventional house (1,000 sq ft) for around $110,000 and get a mortgage for less than $600 per month, and room enough to have a child and a higher probability of resale. The same house in Durham would have a slightly higher mortgage of $597, still more affordable than your micro-house.

  10. Joey

     /  August 19, 2014

    Here are REAL prices inside the CH/Carrboro city limits for new land/homes:
    7,000 s.f lot (1/6 acre): +-$135,000
    Impact Fee: $11,423
    OWASA fees for a modest home (less than 1300 s.f):+- $4,200
    Then add hard costs. Then add profit for the person who builds it.
    I do know that there are some smaller lots (3500 s.f) coming on line soon and that those will be size limited (either 1350 s.f or 1100 s.f). Those will probably sell in the mid 200’s.

  11. Mark Marcoplos

     /  August 19, 2014

    Here’s my answer to the Indy Weekly’s candidate questionnaire when I ran for county commissioner last spring:
    “It’s time to explore the “tiny house” model. The tiny house movement has shown that people can live very comfortably with less space. I propose that the county experiment with a tiny house co-housing development. There could be 800 sf homes for families of 3-4, 600 sf homes for couples, & 400 sf homes for individuals. The development could include a shared garden space, laundry facilities, tools, etc.
    I’d like to highlight the word “experiment”. Too often we get bogged down when exploring a new approach by thinking of all the things that could go wrong if we instituted it in a big way. So let’s experiment. Let’s try a small ten house development and see how it works. Big systems fail in big ways. Little systems fail in small ways. (Thank you Stewart Brand.)
    Orange High students have been building an affordable house each year. It’s in the mini-McMansion style, maybe 1800 sf. Why not build three small homes instead? Also, it would be far easier for volunteers to build smaller homes. Maybe get other schools involved. Students could not lose by learning a little about construction and helping people who need a home. Additionally, these homes would be more affordable.
    A living wage is crucial. As a builder I know that houses are expensive. To state the obvious, houses are not affordable because a lot of people cannot afford them. Our economy is out of whack and people are not getting paid a fair wage that enables them to purchase what should be available to them in exchange for their hard work.”

  12. many

     /  August 19, 2014

    Mark,

    Correct me if I am wrong here, but we already have the “tiny house” model experiment you are proposing county wide, they are called trailer parks. What have we learned?

    Habitat for humanity also has the student involvement. I have been involved in helping at two Habitat projects one in Durham and one in Orange County. (I am not a very good carpenter though). Not sure I would classify 1800 sqft in any type of mansion, mc or otherwise.

    Building up is always cheaper than building out, and many of the people most in need also need a single story.

    Agreed economy is out of whack. Solutions above are no more than a drop in the bucket. The pulling power of other nearby places with lower land costs and less restrictive/costly codes and taxes is much more powerful and that includes commuting costs.

  13. Karie

     /  August 19, 2014

    Well, there is unfortunately a reason why many landlords do not want to accept section 8. There is a section 8 house on my block in Raleigh that literally attracted crime to the neighborhood. It began with stolen bikes, cars driving around constantly, police turning up frequently and then vehicle break-ins, crimes never before heard of in the middle class diverse neighborhood. I do not want to live near criminals, I empathize with the landlords in that I want to live near people who treat the yards, pets, property and above all community with respect.

  14. Nancy

     /  August 19, 2014

    I know some criminals and disrespectful people who don’t use Section 8 vouchers, so I don’t think you can generalize. I also recall a developer in Chapel Hill who wrote into the Homeowners’ Association rules that people had to put away the toys and stuff in their yards every night so the neighborhood would look tidy. However well-intentioned, it didn’t go over real well with residents.

  15. Bruce Springsteen

     /  August 19, 2014

    Okay Mark, your post kinda begs these questions so, here goes. What is the square footage of the place you live in and how many people live there?

  16. Terri Buckner

     /  August 20, 2014

    Again, why would someone want to buy a very small house in Orange County that costs more than a moderately sized home in nearby areas?

    I spoke to a young plumber yesterday who is just getting ready to buy his first house– in Chatham. I asked why not Orange? Answer: can’t afford the taxes. I spoke with a senior citizen from Carrboro on Monday who pays $7,000 a year in taxes. Yes, her house is large but it’s divided into apartments.

    What I’m trying to say is that housing costs reflect much more than the size of a home. Property is expensive here because we live in a community with a culture of privilege. We have to have the most expensive schools and libraries on the assumption that expensive = best. Those attitudes are significant market drivers.

    As someone noted, our neighboring communities have improved their schools and other community amenities to become viable, more affordable options. What have we done to set ourselves apart, to make the higher costs justifiable?

  17. Bonnie

     /  August 20, 2014

    Exactly Terri. There was a time when we were distinctive. Now others are catching up. And the important conversations are happening on Nancy’s blog.

    Who’s planning a future that keeps OC and it’s towns a distinctive place to live, commanding a premium because of value not just extravagance. Affordability comes in the form of excellent transportation, schools, and healthcare. Plus places to shop. Not just housing.

  18. many

     /  August 20, 2014

    Bonnie, Then the often circular discussion begins about when we do all that, what sets apart?

    Time to raise the bar.

  19. Mark Marcoplos

     /  August 20, 2014

    Many – Mobile homes are a bit different than “tiny homes”. They take up more space, tend to be lower quality construction, and don’t look as nice. I’ve got nothing against trailers – our family lived in one for ten years while we positioned ourselves to build our own home.
    Bruce – Your question is a very effective red herring generator. My wife and I live in a 3100 sf house. When our two kids lived here, we not only often had another young person living with us, but we homeschooled which involved frequently hosting crowds of kids & parents. Additionally, it’s been used for community functions fairly often. We are now considering it’s best use for the future. Plus, since I was able to build the house, you have to consider the affordability question in a different light. And, since it is a model “green” home, it has business and educational value. I will confess that, after living in a 900 sf trailer with 4-5 people, we had a healthy fear of not designing large enough rooms in our new house.

  20. many

     /  August 20, 2014

    Mark,

    “It’s time to explore the “tiny house” model.”. I am just wondering what it is you think can be learned that we don’t already know.

    Other than the aesthetics you outline a group of small houses shares most if not all of the same societal puts and takes.

    In general greater density requires more (not sure this is the right word) “governance”. This can be authoritative or co-operative, but the rules, cooperation and enforcement make or break the success.

    Other obvious issues to density are greater pressure on resources than would exist normally. (impervious surface runoff, septic, water, transportation, trash, fire and police). This is why the municipalities would prefer an apartment building that minimizes the above impacts. I think the county would resist permitting them under the UDO.

  21. Nancy

     /  August 20, 2014

    Joey — You seem in the known on land values and development costs. Today it was announced that DHIC did not get the federal tax credit it applied for, and it won’t proceed with the project until it gets one. Do you think it’s feasible for a developer to build that proposed affordable housing without a tax credit, so long as the town gives the $2 million in land to the developer for free?

  22. Bruce Springsteen

     /  August 20, 2014

    It’s not a red herring Mark, it’s a good point. You have your reasons to not want to live in a place that small and other people have their reasons.

    Even if you did a lot of entertaining and needed a house 1.5 times what you’d normally need, by your numbers you’d need about 900 sq ft for 4-5 people then for all that entertaining you’d need maybe 500 more sq ft and you’d be done at 1400. Of course, doing all that entertaining in such a small entertaining space would be awkward unless all your guests were really into the micro thing too but again, that’s the point, namely that for your own reasons (not imposing on your guests) you wouldn’t want a house that was micro relative to the activities you had planned for it. Other people wouldn’t want a micro either, maybe for different reasons.

    All that aside though let’s look at this from a more meta perspective. We have a situation where housing is expensive and the response isn’t let’s make housing less expensive but rather is, let’s convince people to live on less money by buying a house that is much smaller than usual. How is that going to go over? As Terri said, people would rather just buy a more moderately sized house nearby, which if you think about it is exactly what has already been happening, but it’s just that up until now the houses in CH they’ve been passing up buying have been “small” instead of “micro.”

  23. bonnie hauser

     /  August 21, 2014

    Many -thanks for suggesting that we try to raise the bar. Affordability – like so many issues is complex – and there’s lots of good ideas. We seem unable to transform ideas into forward-looking solutions – supported by data, alternatives and consequences. I think that’s called “planning”. Unfortunately we can’t plan on a blog.

    Politically – we’ve allowed leaders to get away with throwing money at problems rather than solving them. Consider “a penny for affordable housing”. Why fund anything until they’ve sorted out underlying zoning, permitting and fees, minimum lot sizes, or amenities that make a community affordable.

    So to raise the bar – we need a better conversation that involves communities, leaders and staff – and uses experts and data – to explore alternatives, tradeoffs, in order to find solutions.

    How can citizens create these important conversations? Based on CHN’s latest opinion, the town appears to be headed the other way.
    http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2014/08/19/4080490/roses-and-raspberries.html?sp=/99/586/885/905/

  24. Fred Black

     /  August 21, 2014

    Bonnie, how is a “media not invited” event an indicator of the Town headed the other way?

  25. Mark Marcoplos

     /  August 21, 2014

    Many – until we try a local experiment we’ll never have real information.
    Bruce – If I was out on the street with few resources I’d love to get in a 200 sf house. And, like I said, our family of 4 (sometimes 5) lived in a 900 sf trailer for ten years.

  26. many

     /  August 21, 2014

    Bonnie,

    I agree that the underlying issues need to be sorted out and understood before throwing money at anything.

    To your “headed the other way” point; having observed actions of the town for more than two decades, my conclusion is that Chapel Hill is now hopelessly addicted to property values (taxes). Chapel Hill therefore, does not really want affordable housing (except when it comes to UNC students), but at the same time is uncomfortable saying it.

    Carrboro (addicted to property taxes, but less so) still makes an honest effort, however they are caught in the same ridged reality where expansion limitations, property values and taxes drive building costs and rents to consume so much income that by comparison nearby areas are much more affordable even with commuting costs.

    Hillsborough has the same issues as Carrboro, just not quite as ripe yet.

    This may not be all bad. The lack of affordability in Chapelboro is driving Mebane, Durham and eventually North Chatham – Pittsboro to extend services and grow into Orange County. This development activity will raise county revenues and may serve to offset some Chapelboro property taxes without the bother.

    I, like Nancy, mourn the loss of diversity and quirkiness, but I do not see the political will to form alternatives to the scenario above.

    As Bucky Fuller said – “Tension is the great integrity”

  27. Bonnie

     /  August 21, 2014

    Many – sadly I agree. Then what’s your view on raising the bar?

    Our leaders appear to believe their own rhetoric and most people are not paying attention. Outsiders aren’t buying it and are moving elsewhere.

    I think Hillsborough raised the bar with its new Riverwalk. A truly impressive project – that connects public and privately owned spaces ((like Ayr Mount), and gives people in town a real connection with nature. It’s bike and wheelchair friendly – and accessible from many places.

    Developed by Summit engineering – a local business that pays taxes our of their offices in the Meadowlands. So the town saved money and provided private sector jobs.

  28. many

     /  August 21, 2014

    Probably never happen because my use of “raising the bar” is antithetical to the definition used by those making the decisions. I suspect that a number of the decision makers firmly believe that their definition of “raising the bar” is the essence of what makes Chapel Hill “special” and insular. I have often compared it to the “island mentality”

    In my mind, raising the bar requires dialog (like this) leading to vision translated to a plan. But dialog is meaningless unless it is being listened to and acted on by the decision makers.

    If Chapel Hill wants “workforce housing” it needs to drive that in cooperation with the employers (UNC, the hospital the town government itself, oppps! no longer BCBS) and somehow link that housing to employment. (not sure that is legal, but it goes to the living wage discussion….how do you engineer a living wage in an economically advantaged area when lower cost areas are less than 15 minutes away?)

    If Chapel hill wants more low or middle income housing it needs to have places to build adequate inventory and a commitment to maintaining that stock in the face of development pressures. As you suggest, it also needs to embrace the establishments that middle class people actually go to rather than just boutique shopping.

    I thought Roger Perry got it right in the “Woodcroft” subdivision over in Durham which has apartments and smaller homes and neighborhoods mixed in with medium and larger sized homes, with trails and a club allowing for and encouraging mobility between them. I think that sort of idea coupled with good governance, excellent schools and local shopping was a touch of genius for its time.

    I think the idea went wrong in Meadowmont which did not provide the “starter” homes and built in mobility, but I am not sure that was a result of Rogers intent or the economics.

  29. Terri

     /  August 21, 2014

    “If Chapel hill wants more low or middle income housing it needs to have places to build adequate inventory and a commitment to maintaining that stock in the face of development pressures.”

    They could start by protecting the middle-income housing that is already built. Why build new if you’re losing what is already on the ground?

  30. many

     /  August 21, 2014

    Terri. Agreed.

    However the question remains (dialog and listening needed) how? And how much do you want to interfere with market forces? And is it legal? And what about those who are assuming appreciation? And what does that do to tax base? Can you allow greater density in existing stock? And a million other viewpoints.

  31. Terri

     /  August 21, 2014

    There has to be a willingness to discuss it first. I have begged and pleaded with elected officials (who claim their passion for affordable housing) to at least get the “consultants” to analyze the likely impact redevelopment at Fordham Ephesus will have on the adjoining middle-income neighborhoods. Same for the development at Obey Creek. I might as well be mute and invisible for all the good my pleading has done.

    So my answer to your question of how? We better find some willing advocates who will run for council next year (Donna Bell and Matt C have both said they don’t intend to run for re-election).

  32. many

     /  August 21, 2014

    I seriously doubt that affordable housing, or housing in general is a winning platform to run on.

  33. Bonnie

     /  August 21, 2014

    Many – actually affordable housing has feel good attributes and any candidate will have good rhetoric.

    The Cedar Grove institute is a great place to start a conversation on affordability. They have the data, the models and the critical thinking. They feel that our zoning is a non starter

  34. Mark Marcoplos

     /  August 22, 2014

    Affordable housing (along with the achievement gap) is a campaign issue that just keeps on giving. Year after year, decade after decade. You have to pay lip service to it in order to be considered a serious candidate.

  35. many

     /  August 22, 2014

    While I agree in the affordable housing issue plays well in most places, I think that Chapel Hill is different. There is an “Island Mentality” that wants to keep everything as it is, and if you must change, then it has to be gold plated.

  36. Terri

     /  August 22, 2014

    I disagree, Many. Everyone wants to talk about affordable housing, especially the CH elected officials. But……how many people recognize that affordable housing really means “subsidized” housing? How many understand that new developments that have affordable housing requirements may be undercutting existing housing that is affordable to middle-income folks? Maria Palmer and Donna Bell have both made affordability the spotlight of their candidacies, but IMHO, both are detrimental to the actual cause of making the community affordable.

    In the absence of a shared understanding of “affordable housing”, the discussions become about which candidate is most likeable or who has the best rhetoric, not which one is most informed or is willing to challenge the status quo by assuming that current policy has been unsuccessful. That’s the candidate I want and will happily support. I want someone who is going to focus on “community affordability” with ideas for how that plays out in housing for low and middle income citizens.

  37. many

     /  August 22, 2014

    Terri,

    From my window it’s all about who can successfully obfuscate the “affordable housing” issue so as to insure nothing gets done. We have been here since the early 80’s and its that same story every year.

    Like I said, I am OK with letting people make their voting decision based on the candidates true position, if we could just get some basic honesty on the issue, so we can either fix it or move on.

  38. Bonnie

     /  August 23, 2014

    What process will be used to vet candidates beyond lip service to the issue. justice united ran an entire forum in 2013 on affordable communities. The answers were perfect.

  39. many

     /  August 24, 2014

    As we have seem to have shown in this discussion solutions are certainly not obvious. I reject any idea that oversimplifies the issue. I also reject the local media’s superficial acceptance of perfect answers without matching deeds. People should ask themselves logically what is possible and then ask what is probable?

    Disambiguation of this and other issues still needs to happen. It cannot be reduced to simple media buzz phrases like “income inequality”. An example of what I am talking about is the fact that people at the poverty line in the US ($ 23,500 a year) are wealthier than 89.61% of the people in the world. http://www.globalrichlist.com/ The real measure is contextual standard of living.

    We need to ask and answer the question (as Nancy has attempted to do), what we ourselves value and what that says about our collective character.

    The root of this and other societal problems run much deeper than housing. It is arrogant to think we can solve these problems in isolation, but that reality does not mean we can’t innovate and make local conditions better. We can certainly learn from, and partner with others.

    At the end of the day, the best solution may involve better public transportation from nearby less expensive housing locations to employment here. This is why I have been so opposed to light rail soaking up the lion’s share of limited public funds on what amounts to a point to point transit trophy for the well to do and politicians.

    We live in a disruptive time. That is at least partly why people who can afford to live here (and other places) for a village atmosphere and at least the illusion and perception of simpler times.

    So far, my conclusion is that most people are still generally comfortable with the way things are and are not paying attention to what the politicians are doing. People are too busy to be aware of who and what is driving decisions and who is saying one thing and doing another.

  40. Bonnie

     /  August 24, 2014

    So the answer is not in anyone’s political rhetoric – it’s more likely to come in the form of a plan. So we need leaders committed to work together on fact-driven planning and collaborative problem solving. That way we can go beyond the rhetoric, and start to clarify terms, options and context. Even separate the future from the past

    Sign me up!

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