There's a real need for more affordable housing in our community. Affordable Housing Online estimates that approximately 58% of renters in Leon County are rent burdened, meaning that they spend more than 30% of their gross income each month to secure housing. When people have to spend 40, 50, 60% or more of their income each month on rent, how can they afford healthy food, medical care, transportation, and other essentials? The simple truth is that they can't and we need to acknowledge that fact to address this issue moving forward.
The root problem stems from how we as a society view housing, as something that should be in the market and therefore be subject to a profit motive. In my view, much like healthcare, housing is something that should be guaranteed as a basic human right and provided to everyone. As we work towards that goal at the federal level, we can and should take steps to limit the impact of market forces and thereby bring down the costs to secure housing here in Leon County.
There are number of alternative-housing models, both here in the U.S. and abroad, that have a lot of potential. Limited-equity cooperatives, community land trusts, tenement syndicates, and mutual-aid housing cooperatives all bring something different to the table and should be part of the conversation when developing our long-term affordable housing plans. We need to adopt and promote approaches centered on providing high-quality affordable housing for local residents, not making huge profits for real estate developers. While it's unclear exactly which approaches would work best in our community, it's undeniable that our current market-centered approach has failed to provide the types and quantities of affordable housing we need here in Leon County.
As County Commissioner, I would work to:
bring together community leaders and local non-profit organizations to discuss a wide range of affordable housing measures
hold a series of public hearings to allow for citizen input on this issue