Office sought: Harrisonburg City Council
1. Why are you seeking election/re-election; and if successful, what are your three primary goals and how do you propose to address them?
One of the main reasons why I am running for City Council is I am not pleased with the way the city is spending my tax dollars. I would like to see the city be more fiscally responsible and maintain a lower tax rate for an extended period of time.
We need to have reasonable school funding instead of spending solely on appearances. The schools should not be a photo opportunity for the students walking into them. We need to care more about how they walk out of them, being better prepared to enter the work force. If they choose to move on to higher education, then we need to graduate well-educated students that are prepared for college. We need to provide necessary resources for our public safety officials to keep our community safe. The turnover in the Harrisonburg Police Department is more than twice the national average. We have not been able to maintain a fully staffed police department in many years. We need to develop a plan that will retain our police officers from leaving the city after they are thoroughly trained.
We need to have a transportation plan to ensure traffic flows smoothly throughout the city so citizens can travel from one end of the town to the other in a timely fashion. This plan must include sidewalks and bike paths to ensure all those traveling are safe.
2. The health of our area economy is always a concern to REALTORS®. What will you do to advocate for economic development and small businesses?
As a small business person, myself I know firsthand how the health of our economy is driven by small business and the city needs to do whatever it can to help them grow and prosper. When they do so will the city and the staff they employ. The city needs to look for ways to partner with them to help them grow. We need to look at ways to improve the city transit to help make it easy for staff and customers alike to get to them to work and shop. We need to talk to the business and work with them.
3. Affordable housing is a major concern for many area families. What do you support to help ease the housing crunch for local workforce families, and are there any steps that government can take to alleviate homelessness?
As a city we need to remove whatever barriers we can to help keep the cost down on a house. We need to find locations in the city that we can increase the density and make the permit prosses move faster. We need to look at other cities across the US and find out what is working and try to use that in Harrisonburg this is a problem across the US and we need to work hard to fix this.
I have looked over the report that was done for the Virginia’s housing Policy Advisory Council by Andrew McCoy below is from the Executive Summary:
Executive Summary Key Findings
1. Virginia has a shortage of housing affordable to a substantial share of households. All regions of the state are experiencing significant shortages of affordable housing, as evidenced by the large share of households experiencing housing cost burdens across urban, suburban, and rural areas. Statewide, one in three households is cost burdened, spending more than 30 percent of their income for housing.
2. Failure to address affordable housing needs adequately has significantly affected key priorities of state policy, including economic and workforce development, transportation, education, and health.
3. Virginia needs to produce substantial new affordable housing to accommodate anticipated workforce growth. Virginia will need to house over 350,000 new workers in the next 10 years. The retirement of Baby Boomers and the entry of millennials into the workforce implies that a large share of new workers will be young with relatively low incomes and in need of affordable rental and homeownership units.
4. The homebuilding industry faces major challenges in meeting affordable housing needs. Nationally and in Virginia, the homebuilding industry faces challenges in affordable housing production for the following reasons: a. Developable residential site shortages and high land costs near major employment centers b. Construction labor supply constraints (especially in skilled trades) c. Limited means for reducing rapid increases in development costs
5. Regions with lower combined housing and transportation costs have experienced better economic performance.
6. Virginia can no longer rely on the federal government to address critical housing needs. Federal housing appropriations are severely constrained, and fiscal stress is expected to further reduce federal housing expenditures and increase the likelihood of devolution of housing assistance responsibilities to the states. Virginia can avoid a housing crisis if the state and localities are proactive Some of the nation’s largest cities and housing markets face a housing crisis—their workers can no longer afford available housing. Facing these challenges, workers leave, bear greater cost burdens, or experience personal crises such as foreclosure, displacement, or homelessness. Virginians have not been exempt from such challenges, but Virginia’s housing challenges are still manageable if we act now.
Housing can help attract talent and businesses Virginia has the opportunity to address growing housing challenges and make housing a comparative advantage in economic development. As housing costs increase faster than incomes and the federal government reduces funding for affordable housing, nationwide housing problems will become more prominent. States and places that proactively address this growing challenge will be more attractive to both workers and businesses. This research addresses Virginia’s housing-related challenges that influence economic development. The findings discussed in this report underscore the importance of housing to individuals, families, communities, and our state economy, as well as the effects of housing on the Commonwealth’s economic growth. The information bulleted below provides a snapshot of the research discussed in the executive summary, the full report and the nine topic-based reports that are included as appendices. Report Snapshot Housing and the Economy The housing industry is the Commonwealth’s sixth-largest private sector industry. High housing and transportation costs are negatively correlated with economic growth indicators. Housing and Economic Development Over the next 10 years, Virginia can add 357,800 net new jobs if affordable and appropriate housing is available for potential employees. There are places across the state where representatives say that their housing stock helps their region attract workers and businesses. Other representatives have noted that high housing costs both deter workers and businesses and thwart business expansion. Housing and Economic Opportunity In 2015, nearly 1 in 3 Virginia households were burdened by housing costs and more than 1 in 10 were severely burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their household income for housing. Housing cost burdens negatively affect economic opportunity for individuals, families, and children. Unaffordable, unstable, or otherwise inappropriate housing negatively affects residents’ health and children’s educational attainment, which in turn negatively affects the performance of current and future workers. The Way Forward Proactive and decisive planning and policy that supports workforce housing and embraces technology will make housing a competitive advantage for the state. Training and educating people in the residential housing industry is the best way to introduce changes needed in the industry.
4. Fair Housing programs are critical to a community because they provide an opportunity to those that face resistance to residency with an opportunity to secure a home. How can we work together to incorporate fair housing programs into the area?
Fair housing is a federal program and we need to work hard to make sure the all property owners that do rentals that they follow the law and that we have a level playing field from the person that just rents out a room to the complex that has over 100 units.
5. As an Association representing 400 REALTOR® and affiliate members who live and work in the community, what role do you see HRAR playing in housing issue discussions and how can the Association work with you to improve the community?
It goes without saying that the realtors are the experts in housing and the builders are the experts in building, we need to have an open dialogue with you and the city council to solve this the city’s housing problems.
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