Letter writer: First, track history of affordable housing problem

Graphic by Lori Deaton

First, a little background about myself … [I am] 80 years old, and [after] dropping out of high school, I became a carpenter, which led me to become a successful, licensed general contractor in the state of Florida.

My heyday in construction was from the mid-‘60s, to the ‘80s. That is when buildings were very much affordable.

I saw over the years so much unnecessary requirements by local and federal governments that, of course, added to the cost of construction. Which was passed on to the consumers.

I am retired but talk to people still in the construction business, and they all say it is out of control again for unnecessary requirements.

One basic proof of this, after the Second [World] War, my dad wanted a home built and could not find help, so he took it on himself to build his one and only house before even a permit or building inspectors were required as they are today. After 66 years, and through many hurricanes, that same house is still standing on the coastline and in great condition.

I read your article [“The Quest for Affordable Housing: Local Experts Weigh in on Asheville’s Housing Crisis,” July 29, Xpress] plus the four contributing people’s thoughts.

And not one mentioned … how did this problem come about.

Not only with the housing problems, but also in many other areas — such as health, schooling, insurance … that we have today — let’s start asking how this problem came about and not just throw more money to try to correct the mess we are in today.

So in summary, let’s find out what went wrong and fix that problem, not ask for free help, discount material costs, and any public or government assistance, but rather look at the real problem on how this happened …

— Frank G Richert IV
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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3 thoughts on “Letter writer: First, track history of affordable housing problem

  1. NFB

    Interesting. Not once in this letter does the writer specify any “unnecessary requirement” that is leading to the lack of affordable housing in Asheville.

    He claims that housing was affordable in the 70’s and 80’s but neglects to acknowledge that it was in the 90’s, 00’s and since that has seen Asheville really become a boom town for people buying second homes or how low interest rates have made real estate a hot investment. All of those have likely had more to do with putting Asheville into crisis area when it comes to affordable housing and none of them get even a mention. Maybe the situation is different in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida but he should not apply the situation there to the one here. I’d be interested in hearing what “unnecessary requirements” he thinks is causing this crisis 700 miles away.

  2. When you turn housing into an investment it’s going to make things less affordable. A house is a bunch of wood, wires, glass and plastics. Why do we place such a value on this? We need to approach houses the way we do everything else: make it cheap and affordable. The only limit is land, but we are a huge country compared to Europe or other nations. I agree with the letter writer, government has made it way too complicated to build a structure. Let’s let people experiment more, we need a housing lab in Asheville.

    • Jim

      Home Depot sells a 600 sq ft two story building as a storage shed in the 15K range built. Make a few structural mods such as larger beams in the floor, insulation, finished walls, and more efficient windows and it should come in around the 50K range.

      Houses are disposable. It’s the land that’s expensive. And unless someone with money buys a ton of it with the specific purpose of creating an area of housing like mentioned above, nothing will change. Government is not the solution. It’s the problem.

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