Why affordable housing matters

It seems to me that an awful lot of folks I know in service industries have to work two jobs to just make ends meet. When you’re working 40 hours a week, you shouldn’t have to get a second job to afford to live in our city and stay out of poverty. What about people with families? All those additional work hours leave little or no quality time for parents to have with their children and other loved ones.

Some people don’t appreciate the value of a vital downtown and greater Asheville with mixed income levels housing. And then there is the NIMBY viewpoint. What folks don’t understand is that mixed income levels in our local housing brings a vibrancy and stability along with it. When workers have housing they can afford, frequent moving is a lot less likely.

Of course it helps that our affordable housing plans are linked with smart growth principles.

Maybe it’s semantics that will give us the political will to provide much needed affordable housing. Will “workforce housing” help with that perception and will it relieve the anxiety some have of affordable housing being in their neighborhood?

— Carmen Ramos-Kennedy

Asheville

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8 thoughts on “Why affordable housing matters

  1. travelah

    If you cannot earn a living in Asheville, perhaps the better alternative is to move to those places where one’s skill set is marketable. Lets face reality. The reason a lot of people have trouble making it in Asheville is because there is no demand for their skills. If you have a college degree and you are waiting tables because you value living in Asheville instead of earning a true middle class wage or salary, that is a voluntary choice. It has nothing to do with “affordable housing”. Instead it is whether or not you can afford to live in Asheville. The city does not owe you a subsidy or an extra shake. For that matter, a significant part of the problem is there are too many people living in Asheville who will never have the positions they have trained for or have earned degrees to fill. Seriously, college is over. Move on and get a job like everybody else.

    • bsummers

      Trav, there’s nothing in this letter about people complaining they don’t have jobs commensurate with their training or skills.

      Anybody, regardless of their education or skillset, has to be able to pay the bills from what they earn at their job. And if local wages don’t pay enough for employees to afford a place to live in the community they work in, that’s a problem.

  2. Big Al

    Asheville has too many potters, poets and philosophers waiting tables because that is all UNC-A offers, while local nurses and CNAs have to take distance learning from colleges as far away as Boone, Colluwee and Tennessee to get their degrees. The UNC system should wise up and trade those worthless liberal arts degrees for BSN, MSN and other programs that will do more than produce entitled waiters and smartass barristas.

  3. boatrocker

    That’s the nicest way I’ve ever heard “let them eat cake” phrased- through a depersonalizing myopic lens of supply and demand economics. Coupla questions though-

    Did I mishear that Buncombe county has the highest rents in NC?

    If I can barely feed myself much less save money because of the disparity between living wages and affordable housing here in Buncombe County, where do those thousands of dollars come from so that I can move somewhere with a cheaper cost of living? Sounds like NIMBY to me.

    I actually use my college major for work (I’m one of the lucky ones I guess) and don’t wait tables or paint myself silver to juggle fire downtown but I still need to ‘get a job like everyone else’?

    Where pray tell are those perfect jobs that allow me to eat steak and lobster every night? If not in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC, which states specifically? I should also add legal, as my chemistry is pretty weak so that eliminates any “Breaking Bad” scenarios.

  4. Big Al

    “…where do those thousands of dollars come from so that I can move somewhere with a cheaper cost of living?”

    Where INDEED will those MILLIONS of dollars come from to provide affordable housing for waiters and bartenders?

    Answer: MY WALLET.

    You are Damn Right NOT IN MY BACK YARD!

    • hauntedheadnc

      Big Al — So, shall we assume then that you’re ok providing your own private healthcare, your own security, your own private tutors for any children you might have, putting out any fires that might threaten your property, cooking and serving all your own food, and ringing yourself up at every store you visit?

      Or were you not aware that cops, firefighters, teachers, and nurses also can’t afford to live in Asheville, just like all those waiters and clerks?

      Or were you saying that you’ll just have your servants perform all those functions for you?

  5. boatrocker

    I wasn’t aware that anyone was asking to be provided with affordable housing- isn’t the real issue Buncombe County’s exceedingly high rent vs. its exceedingly low lack of a living wage?

    If (Heaven forbid) Asheville had a consistent living wage that kept up with the price of inflation, would $0.50 more on your bill when you eat out really destroy America?

    But I suppose you’re right, all those commie waitstaff and bartenders want the same prefab housing as Cold War Russia.

  6. Big Al

    Comparing cooking, serving food and ringing up purchases with the services that are EXPECTED from governemnt (fire safety, law enforcement and education) is the usual straw dog that is trotted out when the debt-swelling public trough is pulled away.

    By the way, THIS NURSE has no trouble living affordably in Asheville. He has a BIG problem with all of the whining for hand-outs.

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