Housing still No.1 issue for our city
Fredericksburg is a dynamic small market. It goes without saying that nearly any other small town in Texas would trade places with us in a heartbeat. They would swap their issues for our “problems” for the benefits of those who came before, creating a place that is so desirable to visit or live.
Those problems include housing and the rising problem of professionals, even some dual-income couples, not being able to afford to live here. We have expressed appreciation to companies who are supplying new apartments and were similarly heartened last week to read of plans for around 50 homes close to the $250,000 mark that would meet a huge need.
We are grateful to Mimi and Nicole Bartel, a mother-daughter real estate tandem who want to face this issue head-on and get moving to provide affordable housing. (Or “attainable” housing, as some prefer.)
The subject came up at last week’s city council candidates’ forum. The seven people running for council — three mayoral hopefuls and four council candidates — expressed varying degrees of support for affordable housing developer assistance, from waiving utility fees to letting the market continue to dictate.
We, too, favor a free market. But every now and then, the free market creates situations that are not beneficial to many consumers. And that is happening right now with housing in Fredericksburg.
When average homes rival in price what one would pay in the top metro markets, it becomes unaffordable for young families, service workers and those who are the backbone of our community, such as policemen, nurses or teachers. We risk moving toward resort-type places, such as Vail, Colorado, considered a playground for the wealthy whose workers live far away.
As this is one of Fredericksburg’s most pressing issues — and one that is tied to other issues like wages, childcare and low unemployment — we will support the candidates who are the most forward-looking on this issue. As one councilman stated last week, we have been looking at this issue for 20 years.
“Affordable housing” has some big city, negative stereotypes associated with it for some, with images of dumpy apartments and unappreciative residents. But we don’t believe anyone is advocating for those types of projects, nor would anyone on the council allow that to happen.
And some questions remain about future sales of these units, which can be worked out. Let’s not let a few unanswered questions stop progress on this issue.
Right now, there is no bigger issue than housing in our market. Those developers choosing to take a risk and provide solutions should be assisted in any way possible short of outright taxpayer subsidization. These developers will help this market immensely and those families who could purchase a home and afford to live here will become part of the fabric of our community.
And not one problem associated with non-affordability of this market was caused by our backbone workers. It has been caused because this is a desirable place to live and visit, coupled with rising housing prices both nationwide and statewide.
Candidates who are actively seeking solutions for our policemen, our nurses and our school teachers and staff deserve support. – K.E.C.
Average sales price in Fredericksburg
2017 - $386,098
2012 - $237,225
* Figures from Mike Starks, Realtor, www.mikestarks.com