Mayoral candidates on affordable housing: We should do something

It was rather disappointing to hear candidates for mayor seeming to agree that city government should provide housing.

It simply isn’t their job.

Providing housing is the job of the private sector. Government’s only role should be to make it possible for homebuilders to build affordable housing by minimizing taxes and regulations.

The federal government has moved into the area of providing housing, despite the fact that it does not have the authority to do so either. It now provides food and shelter, so presumably the next handout will be clothing. After all, why shouldn’t people living on the street wear Gucci apparel?

The result with housing has been a series of expensive disasters, epitomized by the demolition of the largest, most expensive public housing project in the nation.

News4Jax recently asked nine candidates for mayor what they would do about affordable housing. The answers were vague and only Republicans LeAnna Cumber and Al Ferraro took the side of a non-government solution.

We got the distinct impression that most of the candidates just mumbled answers they thought the media wanted to hear.

Donna Deegan, Democrat, said it was “”one of the No. 1 issues,” which made us wonder how many No. 1 issues there are in her world.

After saying government needs to “do more” she said, “I think we first of all need to look at all these vacant properties we have all over the city and see what we can do with that, see if we can have nonprofits and more affordable housing in some of those vacant lot areas.”

Eye on Jacksonville could not decipher that comment precisely but she seemed to be saying that not-for-profit organizations should do the charity work.

Republican Daniel Davis said, “We should take action immediately and make workforce housing part of the capital improvement program in Jacksonville, Florida. We should do a survey of city-owned properties and independent authority on properties and make sure that we can make the finance stack work for developers where they can come in and preserve workforce housing for us in the future of Jacksonville.”

Workforce housing is housing for people who work, as opposed to housing for people on welfare.

Audrey Gibson, a Democrat, had no constructive ideas either. She complained that companies are allowed to build houses and charge whatever rent they want.

Actually, they aren’t, but it isn’t because of some phony government solution such as “rent control.”

The market dictates what they can charge. If the rent actually is too high, no one will rent and the owners will lose money paying the cost of building the house and the taxes on the house.

Affordable housing is a nebulous term with no more meaning than “affordable cars” or “affordable television sets” or “affordable yachts.”

Democrats are once again trying to dictate the discussion and distract from serious problems such as crime, where government does have a role and where Democrats are failing.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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