We are fortunate to have two good candidates for mayor of Everett. I appreciated their thoughtful answers to the questions raised in the Oct. 15 Q&A with the candidates in The Herald. However, I am disappointed with their answers about affordable housing.
Neither candidate truly values what we are offering developers. We have land, capacity to provide more water and process more sewage, good schools, police and fire protection, parks, a relatively good traffic grid, improving mass transit and more. We should not have to incentivize developers to build affordable housing. We must require them to do so as a cost of doing business in our city. Otherwise, we’ll end up picking up the tab for the problems associated with the lack of affordable housing for years to come.
The developers must to do their fair share to assure that the working class is not pushed out of our city. Neither candidate has offered a solid, viable plan to increase affordable housing units by at least 20 to 30 percent within the next five to ten years.
I agree that we should preserve historic neighborhoods that have a solid single-family base, but what about the neighborhoods along the transit lines where we want to increase density? Many of the homes within a few blocks of these corridors are rentals and some are already subdivided or are being shared by numerous unrelated people. Where do we expect these workers to go when the developers demolish where they live to make way for taller buildings with more costly units to increase density? The situation is more dire for young families.
Credit advisers recommend that housing costs account for no more than 28 percent of gross income. Currently, the minimum wage in Everett is only $11 per hour or $22,880 per year. If each unit is occupied by two people working a minimum wage job, we must insist that some of the units set aside cost no more than $1,067 per month and be energy efficient. Some two- to three-bedroom units must be available in this price range as well to accommodate families with children. Affordable transit and childcare are other considerations, but topics for another day.