Friday, August 24, 2007

Affordable Housing in Nashville: Is It Becoming A Pipe Dream?

This is a greater kvetch, but I only have time to put up a (relatively) brief comment for starters.

It is always horrible when someone loses their home. To see the homeless on the street or families in shelters is heartbreaking. No one should be without a home. (and on a tangent I love what Habitat For Humanity is doing ... but again, that's a tangent.)

I do not enjoy the hysteria surrounding the housing market fallout and foreclosures that's been in the news lately. We're not even talking about the "poor" losing their homes anymore. (And this doesn't even address the people suffering and losing their homes with this flooding in the Midwest and fires to the West!)

We are now talking about the average middle class who are unable to make their hou$e payments because quite simply, the property and mortgage is priced beyond their means. And unscrupulous people who are being unsupervised are okaying mortgages in formats and interest rates that ought never be offered, let alone approved.

Losing a home (or apt.) used to be what happened to "bums" back in the day when I was a kid; alcoholics who drank themselves into irresponsibility. Or what happened to families who lost their means of support either through loss of a spouse or through loss of a job.

Now I know most people LOVE to have their own little niche. And everyone should have a home, whether it's a house, or apartment.

But geez louise, lately looking around Nashville, the ratio of "Luxury Apartments" to plain affordable apartments is becoming slowly but surely disproportionate. I'm not trying to be resentful. I'm also not saying it's bad to have the choice of a "luxury apartment" if someone could actually afford it, mind you. But DANG. Not all of us are music celebrities, Music City or not. Not all of us are middle management. Not all of us want to be or can be two-income families. Not all of us want those ugly [expletive deleted] expensive granite countertops in the kitchen of an apartment they just want to rent for a while. Why are these apartment building owners pricing regular working people out of rentals?

How are regular salaried families supposed to save the "20%" they're supposed to be able to have as a down payment on a house? Does anyone realize putting 20% Down on an average 2 bedroom, 240k house or apt is $48,000? That is more than a year's salary for most average workers! (COUGH!) We also can't use the "no money down" scenario as a practical reality, because when you do your homework, that adds additional insurance and makes the monthly payment way bigger, and makes the payout life of the loan longer.

I can't be the only one freaking out over these figures.

House, HECK. Just affording a decent apartment that's actually near the grocery store or public transportation and not out in the sticks is fast becoming a pipe dream.

This is so not good for families, this stretching them beyond reason.

Living off credit, falling deeper into debt, putting your family at risk ... my GOSH, losing a home is SO traumatizing! (Doesn't anyone watch Oprah or Doctor Phil when they have these people on? This is SAD. Look, I've lost my job and my apartment twice, I know what I'm talking about.)

Why are we forcing this situation? We all want safe neighborhoods and good buildings. Do the profit margins really have to be so wide? Is it really worth losing good people and putting up with the constant turning over of tenants?

Somebody needs to do the math. Where are the teachers and cops and hospital workers and retail clerks and librarians and bus drivers and waitresses and church workers and artists(!) and administrative assistants -- all our normal average neighbors who do normal, average jobs and enjoy them -- where are they supposed to live when the rents/mortgages are simply too high in proportion to their income?

Where did modest, safe homes in good neighborhoods go? They are just out of the average modest income family's price range.

I've kvetched enough for today.

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