Letters to the Editor

Public-private partnership needed in affordable housing

It’s not uncommon to hear complaints about affordable housing and homelessness these days. Valid complaints; it can be hard to keep track of progress made, which issues have spiraled uncontrollably, and which local businesses (ahem, Microsoft) have pledged millions of dollars for affordable housing.

Nonprofits are absolutely fantastic (I’m looking at you Quixote Communities and SPS Habitat for Humanity), but something I think people fail to realize is the power of our state Legislature. This year there are bills aimed at alleviating the housing crisis, providing better assistance to homeless folks, flying through committees; some are almost certain to make it to the Governor’s desk.

A perfect balance of state and nonprofit working together is embodied in SB5025. This bill would create a tax exemption for building supplies purchased by self help housing organizations (such as Habitat for Humanity or the USDA Rural Housing Service). Depending on the cost of materials, it is more than likely that 1-2 more houses could be built in a year with the same amount of initial funding.

This is huge! One of my biggest complaints is the government is supposed to support us, but often services are lacking or rules are so archaic that nonprofits are forced to step in. Don’t get me wrong, I love nonprofits and we are better off because of them, but after a point they can only do so much with limited funding/resources.

The legislature might surprise us and make some decisions that will help a lot. We need it.