Wednesday, May 9, 2007

City Planners in Fantasyland

Leif Olson, long-range planner for the city, yesterday said attainable workforce housing in Fayetteville would have a maximum price range of about $131,000 to $197,000. City Council members from Wards 1, 2, and 4 disagreed.

Olson said that according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the 2007 median family income for a family in Benton or Washington counties is $53,100. He chose not to use Fayetteville residents for the calculation, saying there were many students but ignoring the huge salaries paid to UA administrators and football coaches who it seems almost outnumber students. Instead, he chose to throw in Benton County with thousands of Wal-Mart executives and suppliers, J.B. Hunt trucking executives, and the McMansions in gated communities like Pinnacle where even one UA administrator maintains a home.

Using Planner Olson’s chosen two-county area, the definition proposed for attainable workforce housing bracketed that median income with ranges of 80% to 120% — or $42, 480 to $63,720. Possible house prices for those groups, based on the proposed definition and applying conservative amounts to a mortgage calculator, ranged from about $134,000 to $204,000.

Here’s something Leif Olson and whomever hired him need to consider. Real jobs held by real people. The following seven job openings are currently advertised by the University of Arkansas.

Custodial Worker II Annual Salary: $16,125.00

Library Supervisor I Annual Salary: $24,131.00

Maintenance Worker II Annual Salary: $16,500.00

Public Safety Officer I Annual Salary: $22,859.00

Skilled Trades Worker Annual Salary: $24,131.00

Secretary II Annual Salary: $18,903.00

Accountant Annual Salary: $25,897.00

How much can these folks pay for housing? What is the average price of a home they could afford, and how many of those do you think are currently available in the Fayetteville city limits?

We face three options: (1) Pay employees a living wage; (2) build housing that working families can afford; or (3) turn Fayetteville into an enclave for the wealthy who are serviced by a commuting workforce.

1 comment:

Phalcon said...

Thanks for pointing this out!

However, you left out an important category: retired people and people on SS Disability.

All my family's savings were wiped out due to medical expenses when my wife died, and now I live alone, retired and on SSD, which is around 12,500 per year in my case.

I can't even afford rent, and were it not for the generosity of my former employer who lets me live on a property he owns rent free, I and my daughter would be on the street. When I die, my daughter, who is a high school graduate, will be in deep trouble, as her fast food job does not pay enough for her to afford rent, and her job has no benefits, not even a living wage. And it is almost to the point where gas prices will force her to stay home and not work at all.

It takes her salary and my SSD Check just to get through each month, and we have had a whole string of recent disasters with medical/dental expenses and car problems that have cost us several thousand dollars.

But all the bureaucrats and politicians who choose their figures so selectively, ignore the real world with its real world problems. It's like the conservatives who talk about "medical savings accounts" but ignore the fact that the people who are uninsured don't make enough money to save anything - they can't even afford the basics of housing and food and transportation.

The capitalist system is designed to keep people in debt all their lives, and a lot of people now live their whole lives on credit cards - debt that can never be repaid.

When you look at the basics, the cost of housing, food, transportation, insurance, education, etc., you realize just what a trap pursuing "The American Dream" really is these days. There are millions who are cut out of the deal...

And now there is all this insane national debt created by the government, especially the Bush administration, and all the billions wasted on Iraq. Our great grandchildren will still be paying, if the country lasts that long.

And what is it all for? To make the rich even richer - we give our life's blood and work. It's a rigged game.

And for the sake of ever increasing growth and profits, they will even poison the food we eat and kill the planet! Not only are we expected to pay $4.00 per gallon at the pump, they also want our sons and daughters to die for the oil!

Yep, the real world is what you discover when you punch a hole in the fantasyland matrix created by the politicians! And heaven forbid you should lead anyone to look out that hole! You'll get investigated (just ask Michael Moore) and maybe arrested as a communist or terrorist.

Tell me again how great the economy is, and about all those wonderful new 'jobs' Bush has created...