Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why we still need affordable housing


By JOHN FLATTERY

People sometimes ask why Habitat for Humanity continues to press for more affordable housing when it appears that there is a surplus of inexpensive homes available in our community. The answer is complex, but there is still a shortage of decent housing for low to moderate wage earners to purchase in the Wood River Valley.

First, the good news. The exodus of many workers from the valley over the past two years due to the loss of jobs in the construction industry, an industry that contributed 60 percent of our economic production during the past two decades, has created a supply of homes at values lower than we have seen in almost 20 years.

Cash buyers have a vast array of inventory from which to choose if they are willing to deal with layers of bank bureaucracies and have a lot of time. However, most people do not possess the cash, legal skills and time necessary to make a deal today.

The bad news is that although prices have come down drastically, the median per-capita income has also been reduced by about 25 percent. This major reduction in income has widened the affordability gap, making it even more difficult for families who earn low to moderate wages to purchase a decent home in our community.

Couple this fact with the changes in rules by the lending community, which now requires better credit and higher cash down payments, and you have a very difficult environment for the low to moderate wage earner to negotiate a purchase.

All this brings me to continue to press the expansion of Habitat's acquisition and renovation program in our community. Our mission of providing decent affordable homes for low- to moderate-income families is critical to building a workforce that lives and works in our community.

We have hundreds of workers who commute from outside the county. One survey showed that three-fourths would prefer to live in Blaine County if they could afford it.

To date we have helped three families acquire their own homes in the Wood River Valley. We built the first home from the ground up. With today's lower real estate prices, we found it to be less expensive to buy and rehabilitate existing homes for the other two projects.

Habitat sells homes to families for no profit, with a no-interest mortgage based on ability to pay. Monthly payments are used to build additional homes.

If the homeowner decides to sell the house, Habitat has the option to repurchase it for the initial purchase price. The buyer will receive equity from all the mortgage payments made prior to the sale. This also allows Habitat to keep the home in its inventory.

Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 500,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 2 million people. Our goal is to help one family at a time in the Wood River Valley, building or renovating three to four homes a year.

Families contribute "sweat" equity by doing part of the work on the home themselves and/or volunteering to help with other community groups.

Our process of identifying and helping families to partner with us to acquire their own home with an affordable, interest-free mortgage is powerful and fundamental to building a sustainable community.

John Flattery is chair of the Habitat for Humanity Blaine County affiliate.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.