Free up land for housing

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In the April 19 copy of the Empire, there was an article about the homeless problem. It stated the Juneau Homeless Coalition wants "a program in which developers would contribute $10,000 to a trust fund for every $1 million spent on conventional housing; making city property available to developers for low-income housing; and donating at least one lot per year, zoned for high-density housing, for low-income housing projects to be built by charitable groups."

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Juneau has a huge housing dilemma. There is no buildable land on the market. Housing is unbearably expensive. If the city or Forest Service would turn loose some land, there would be less demand and housing costs could go down. Juneau has more low-income housing than I have seen in a community our size. I was appalled when a friend told me he was paying $1,800 a month to live in low-income housing. Doesn't seem very low income to me. At $1800 per month, it seems these agencies and organizations that provide low income housing are making a killing under the guise of helping the needy.

Nearly all buildable land is being slated for low-income, prime riverfront property by the valley post office. Now there is talk of building "affordable" housing behind Fred Meyer and out at Lena. When are they going to build some housing for those of us that don't qualify as low-income? My options are rent or buy a trailer, a quarter-million-dollar condo or a $400,000 fixer-upper. Then I watch all the prime land go toward low-income housing that they are charging outrageous rents for.

Assessed values are going through the roof, and the city claims that it is driven by the values properties are selling for, and sellers say they are setting their prices based on their assessments. Maybe the city should just release the city land, let people build their own houses, set a reasonable assessment, and give incentives to attract new businesses, and maybe we would have fewer low-income people. If they think they have a low-income problem right now, just wait until the market takes a dip and watch all these people who are buying half-a-million-dollar homes on interest-only loans go bankrupt.

Allen Butner


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