I applaud Walla Walla for addressing the affordable housing balancing act in a tenuous local economic climate. However, the city will put the cart before the horse if it  votes affirmatively on the Bachtold/Hayden Homes agenda item. It would be well advised to establish a regulatory watchdog to oversee an affordable housing program before engaging with this out-of-state developer.

I owned an affordable housing condo in Ketchum, Idaho. The incentive for the program (including rentals) is to get people into homes they can afford (my mortgage was less than my prior rental fees), thereby saving enough so they can move on to market rate homes, keeping affordable homes in ongoing supply.

I worked with the “Blaine County Housing Authority” —  www.bcoha.org, which oversees a program whereby persons needing affordable housing apply for a position on a waiting list in their income category. I purchased my condo in a condominium complex (with mixed affordable and market rate units) on Main Street in downtown Ketchum.

I paid dues for maintenance and reserve funds at a pro-rated amount. The affordable units had to be owner-occupied. When I sold my condo, it was through the Housing Authority, to the next person in line for an affordable unit. I was capped at a low profit when I sold it.

This program takes time, effort, money and collaborations with local developers and government entities. Is Walla Walla prepared to take this on? Without parameters, this Hayden Homes development is not an affordable housing solution.

Asserting that the Hayden Homes proposed development is in part a plan for affordable housing is absurd.

It must be near essential services — groceries, medical facilities, public transportation, schools, etc. — and kept affordable in perpetuity. This site accomplishes none of those essentials.

Investors own multiple homes in local Hayden developments — will they be required to keep rental prices in line with affordability? Who would oversee this?

A number of Hayden Home owners rent rooms to help pay the mortgages they can’t afford. Are these extra vehicles coming and going daily accounted for in the traffic study?

If there are no good answers to these questions, the city’s desire for affordable housing will fail and the citizens of Walla Walla will lose.

Please vote no and work toward a feasible affordable housing plan, as opposed to disguising it as a reason for an out-of-town developer to exploit Walla Walla

    Karen Bell

Eagle, Idaho 

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