A few times over the past few years, I have asked both politicians and candidates running for office what affordable housing meant to them. All of them pretty much said the same thing, just worded differently. Affordable housing is about our area building houses that regular families can afford to purchase.

Well, that might be a good definition for people with well-paid jobs and safe secured lifestyles, but that isn't what it means to the majority of families that fight to live paycheck to paycheck at minimum-wage jobs.

Take a single family home with the parent working a low wage job to support two young children. He/she doesn't want to be labeled as "being dependent on state welfare" for help to survive. But, with the job he/she has, how can their paycheck take care of them and their children? They have low-income rent ($1,200) two-bedroom apartment (if lucky), a car/gas/upkeep, food, household supplies for three, personal care (toothpaste, etc), health care copay, eye care not covered, prescriptions not covered, dental not covered, chiropractic not covered, clothing, school supplies, birth control not covered, and the biggest chunk taken out is for child care that charges the same wage as they are making.

And these families are looking forward to purchasing an (affordable) home for their family? Politicians and city leaders have no idea what affordable housing means.

In the May 7 East Oregonian, I finally saw a credible solution for affordable housing. A solution so simple that any small city can grasp and build on it. CAPECO inquired about the purchase of a mobile home park in Pendleton to convert to a low-income family park. That is an excellent idea! But don't outsource the control of it. Keep the rent low and don't increase it like some rental places do here in Hermiston. I know, for low-income mobiles where I live, people are paying over $1,000 a month while being on fixed income.

If the state/CAPECO is providing a good discount for low-income housing, why are the tenants still paying such ridiculously high rents? Someone should be looking into that also. But cities should be buying up or putting their money into building mobile home, low-income family parks instead of thinking low-income families can really can buy an "affordable" new house.

Bernie Sanderson


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