Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Government Causing Housing Problems

As city officials experiment with various punitive measures to address the declining condition of housing stock in Racine, they would be wise to consider their own role in creating the problem.

Consider that despite a declining population in Racine, the city has within the last several years approved two large and partially low income/rent subsidized projects, the Mitchell Wagon Lofts and Belle Harbor. Agencies abound to subsidize or pay outright the rent for these and other low income residences. No doubt about it, Racine officials love to help/enable the poor with your money.

Of course, someone has to pay for all this generosity. Said generosity is paid for in taxes. Racine's property tax rate is 50% higher than neighboring Wind Point, as an example. At some point, some people will decide that the costs, financial and otherwise, associated with a "give us your poor and huddled masses" government policy is too great to bear. So they will try to sell their home for which there are no buyers. This home is destined to become a rental property because of Racine's government, as buying a home and paying taxes is too expensive while all kinds of help is there for low income renters.

So the city adds a few hundred newly constructed, subsidized and TIFed housing units for the poor. Then what happens? They leave the neighborhoods for the good stuff. The landlord who owns a property or two in Racine is now competing, essentially, with the government that was instrumental in financing the new and better low income housing. They still have mortgages and taxes to pay, so something has to give. Perhaps they stop maintaining the property or they take in a marginal tenant. And this is the situation we find ourselves in now.

Harsh ordinances and fines will fix this problem, right?


colt said...

And there are at least two more low income housing projects the City wants to do.
One on 6th st (be just great for the image of Downtown shopping and mugging at the same place) and the Old Danish home site (where a group is planing a large community Victory Garden an Farmers Market using no tax dollars)
The first step to end this BS is removing Brian O'Connell from City Development and RCEDC from any role in City of Racine planing

concrete katie said...

It was announced prior to the election of mayor that the city through the Development Department was going to purchase homes, improve them and then sell them. Here is a question: Does the city offer the assessed price when it purchases properties that are being foreclosed upon? There was a story in the Racinepost awhile ago about a house that sold for $10,000in the historic district.....far, far below its assessed value. What is the city's policy??

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with everything you post here Dennis, but this is a brilliant summation of what is wrong with housing in Racine.

Paul said...

City bureaucrats show their two-faced nature in this respect. On one hand, they put on a good public face by reaching out to the poor and near-poor by providing rent assistance.

But God forbid if you're a middle class "struggling to make ends meet" resident-taxpayer who owns a property in the proposed historic district. Under the proposed plan you'll have little choice but to sell the home you cannot afford to maintain under elitist standards that supposedly "protect" the character and aesthetic of the neighborhood.