Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: Housing hopes

November 5, 2017


To the editor:

Housing changes lives. Changed lives change communities. Changed communities change the world. This, my friends, is hope. On Oct. 30, I attended a Lawrence community event about affordable housing and I heard a young woman’s story of hope. She was homeless just one year ago, and had given up on school because she had no place to study. It all seemed pointless to her. Then, thanks to the La Salle Street demonstration project and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, her family got the chance to pay rent they can afford. That young woman’s life has since turned around. She’s now preparing to go to college. She dreams of becoming a nurse.

People without housing hope for modest things. A stove on which to prepare a meal of their choosing, a table at which to gather with family, a home in which to find stability. Most of us take these things for granted every day. Yet our dreams can — should — be bigger than this.

The affordable housing vote should not be solely transformed into a debate about plans, politics or philosophies. These are important questions, yes, but let’s not forget that elemental human emotion: hope. This vote has the power to give hope — hope that lives, communities, and the world around us can change for the better.

My prayer is that this city will dream big and bring hope to those who suffer by voting yes for affordable housing on Nov. 7.


Richard Heckler 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It’s time to consider eliminating sales taxes on groceries.

Sales Tax Issue - Vote NO then send it back to the city commission for a revised ballot.

Why? Infrastructure portion - The commission isn’t obligated to follow the plan exactly and is the largest pool of money generated by the sales tax. This keeps the door open for helter skelter spending opportunities.

If current design of sale tax issue does not pass City Officials have said there is time before it expires in 2019 to modify the sales tax renewals and include them in a subsequent election.

This eliminates the potential for what I call helter skelter spending opportunities which is accomplished through dedicated allotments. Now we taxpayers KNOW how the money will be spent.

I say vote NO. I want the tax voted down then revised.

Richard Heckler 5 months, 3 weeks ago

f current design of sale tax issue does not pass City Officials have said there is time before it expires in 2019 to modify the sales tax renewals and include them in a subsequent election.

This is how I believe this sales tax should be re-configured and approved to make it efficient and practical spending. I respectfully request the sales tax be absolutely dedicated to the following:

=== 0.05%% dedicated specifically to Public Transit is necessary for low income families, students, seniors who can no longer drive and for those who cannot afford to own a vehicle and for those who choose not to own a vehicle

=== .3% dedicated specifically to Affordable Housing as it seems there is a huge need for such and would provide enough money to make a substantial impact. Who provides the best bang for the tax buck and tenants? Tenants to Homeowners

=== .2% dedicated specifically to the following which improves the quality of life throughout Lawrence,Kansas and provides safe travel for a broad spectrum of the population.

== recreational path infrastructure/recreational trails and paths

== sidewalks/improvements to crosswalks and accessible ramps

== safe travel walk to school and back home

Why is this important? = 1. Reduces travel costs = 2. Promotes an active and healthy lifestyle = 3. Expands mobility options for all in Lawrence,Kansas = 4. Provides environmental benefits through reduced traffic congestion which in turn improves air quality.

The collection of such sales tax to commence on April 1, 2019 and shall terminate ten years after its commencement, all in accordance with the provisions of K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 12-187 et seq., and amendments thereto?”

If current design of sale tax issue does not pass City Officials have said there is time before it expires in 2019 to modify the sales tax renewals and include them in a subsequent election.

It’s time to consider eliminating sales taxes on groceries.

David Reynolds 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Aileen, I also wish for better & more affordable housing. I empathize with the young woman's situation, and I wish her the very best. The story addresses emotions not the facts of the situation needing to be addressed to solve the problem for other people like the young lady.

The problem with the current tax to support "affordable housing" is that it is one dimensional, and does not consider the "Real" issues surrounding affordable housing. Thus, this plan may sound and feel good to those proposing it, but it has no opportunity to make a significant difference in affordable housing in the long term.

First, the city just contracted with a firm to identify how to improve affordable housing in Lawrence. Thus, vote in a tax without knowing the real need? I think not!

Second, this tax, regardless of size, is regressive against the very people it is trying to help.

Third, it is not sustainable. Any tax voted in Tuesday, can be voted out at a future Tuesday.

Fourth, to help the poor & move them into decent affordable housing, they must have decent jobs. Nowhere is the city being aggressive in pursuit of companies, with not only the possibility of decent paying entry jobs, but also for employees to be upwardly mobile within the company. We have far too many people on the commission & in this town crying about "corporate welfare", and not enough people educated regarding the competitive nature of business recruitment.

Fifth, the city has a significant role in cost of housing and development in the city of Lawrence. All the proposals ignore this situation, either out of ignorance, indifference, or willfulness. Last year I had a new house priced and the costs the city imposed beyond the $2,100.00 b building inspection fee, was $7,000.00 for water & sewer system development fees & the Master Street Tree plan requirements. This does not include the exactions for the many studies, & development costs the city requires.

Sixth, the city is now requiring a certain percentage of "affordable houses" in each new development. While sounding good to those proposing this method fail to realize they are negatively impacting others in the housing market. They are imposing “PRICE CONTROLS”!

Buy artificially controlling housing prices in this way, does nothing but raise the price of housing for others wanting to move into the accompanying development. Those foregone costs for land, infrastructure, materials and labor must be recovered. They will be recovered throughout the rest of the development by artificially increasing costs on the remaining houses.

In the 1971 President Richard Nixon instituted “Price Controls”. The result was disastrous. See below.



So I believe a no vote is required at this time. We have a year to come up with better solutions.

Bob Summers 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Housing changes lives. Changed lives change communities. Changed communities change the world. This, my friends, is hope.

Yes. Just give these people what they cannot do on their own and their lives magically change.

They are so valuable to a given society that they need to be given what they cannot possible do on their own.

Liberal logic 101

David Reynolds 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I was busy this morning and couldn't finish my post above.

There is a seventh item that impacts "Affordable Housing". It is the cities regulations, plans, etc.

Example, constraints on land use, such as limiting lot sizes, sizes of rooms & thus homes allowed, not allowing true modular homes within the city limits. FYI, true modular homes have nothing to do with mobile homes. True modular homes are built with the same materials as site built homes, are inspected by agencies approved by local officials to the same standards as site built homes. A new type of home that is popular with milliners is the so called "Tiny House". Maybe that could be allowed.

True modulars & tiny homes can have significant cost savings due to construction is in a plant, out of the weather, versus site built homes. Lead times are generally short versus site built homes. A very large percentage of homes built and occupied in the north east part of the US are true modular homes.

There are many factors that control the affordability of a home.

Raising taxes does not help home affordability. To the contrary as it adds an eighth factor increased taxes on materials used in construction. You might say its a small amount, but keep adding up the pennies & dollars and pretty soon you have real dollars & unaffordable homes.

I find it absolutely baffling the city can only think of taxes & demanding dedication of an amount of all new subdivisions having "affordable housing" on them, as the solutions for affordable housing.

Why can't our city commission, staff & the Affordable Housing Task Force be more thorough in their thinking. Possibly asking the folks who actually develop, build homes, finance & sell homes for a living in the community to participate in the solutions. That might yield some creative solutions versus...just another tax increase.

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