Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mixed Income Housing

The issue the community was in most agreement on Monday night was the need for affordable housing to match the salary ranges in the community rather than arbitrary numbers that will not meet the community’s needs. The current plan calls for 10% moderate income (as defined as 50-80% of the median county income) and 5% middle income (as defined as 80-110% of the median county income). This is totally insufficient and there was clear recognition of this by the community Monday night. The county median income according to the 2000 US Census Bureau is $74,167. This means that under this measure moderate income housing is for people making $37,083.50 to $59,333.60 and middle incoming housing is for people making $59,333.60 to $81,583.70. According to the 2000 census the county household income distribution is:

17.1% of the county households have incomes under $35,000
11.9% of the county households have incomes from $35,000 to
21.5% of the county households have incomes from $50,000 to
17.6% of the county households have incomes from $75,000 to
19.6% of the county households have incomes from $100,000 to
7.2% of the county households have incomes from $150,000 to
5% of the county households have incomes of $200,000 or more

Think about that for a second.

More than 17.1% of households are completely exclude from having housing options in downtown Columbia. Many of these households include the service sector employees that will work in all of the retail proposed for downtown. They also include the people who will keep the office buildings clean and safe. They also include many of the young professionals the plan declares they are trying to attract to live in the urban downtown environment (I think many young professionals will want to live downtown, but will not be able to afford it).

Just to use the example of the salaries of young professionals that the plan declares it plans to attract to live in the downtown a starting salary for person with a college degree with the federal government (a major employer in our area) is GS-5 Step 1 to GS-7 Step 1 grades which are $29,604 to $36,671. With a masters degree federal starting salaries would be GS-7 Step 1 to GS-9 Step 1 grades whose range would be $36,671 to $44,856.

OK, now the plan sets aside 10% of the housing for the households making $37,083.50 to $59,333.60 that makes up at least 12% of county households, but is more likely around 15% of county households.

Another 5% of the housing is being set aside for households making $59,333.60 to $81,583.70, a range that probably includes roughly 20% of county households.

Thus the proposed plan clearly does not meet the community’s needs. The numbers the plan proposes on “moderate and middle income housing” are clearly ridiculous on the face of it and the audience on Monday recognized that immediately and spoke out loudly about this problem.

If we continue to speak out about these issues, write letters to the editor, and tell our elected officials we can get the plan fixed before it is approved. Once the new residential units are approved the county will have lost their leverage to look out for the needs of the community, so this plan must be fixed before any approval is given.

Stay tuned to the next post on Monday’s meeting …


Anonymous Sherman Howell said...

Good, excellent Evan . . .Sherman Howell

10:01 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

Thanks Sherman.

1:43 AM  
Blogger babygurl427 said...

How about housing for those of us Seniors on a low, fixed income bracket? There is NOTHING here in Columbia for US!! Yet we live here, too. I would like to live independently from my brother-in-law but can't because of my financial situation.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

I haven't heard anything specific about seniors on low, fixed incomes. Personally I think that if we can getting the right mix of income levels, those of seniors on fixed incomes would be included, though I would think that they would be mixed in with everyone else so that they can enjoy a diverse environment and not feel shut off in a special area.

6:28 PM  
Blogger babygurl427 said...

Evan, you may never hear or see anything in Columbia about Seniors on a Low, Fixed Income because the "elite" of Columbia are NIMBY's. Sad, but true. I have lived here a little over 10 yrs and there is NADA for those of us in this predicament. Yet we DO EXIST and some day soon there will be MANY, MANY MORE OF US because all the Baby Boomers are aging. Columbia is going to have to change their way of thinking and soon ... or a large portion of the tax base is going to move out of here ... and I'll help lead the parade if I'm still here.

1:49 PM  

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