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Sat, Feb. 22

How would you define affordable housing, and should the city be involved in encouraging it?

Mayoral candidates

Rowle Simmons: “There are many definitions of affordable housing. The bottom line is that no matter how you define it, affordable housing is a national dilemma. I am not in favor of the city subsidizing affordable housing. I do agree with the city assisting in various fee waivers and possibly zoning adjustments, but not an outright subsidy.”

Paul Katan: “Affordable housing is limited by income, market prices, and financing options. Prescott should help with affordable housing. It doesn’t cost us additional money and improves Prescott’s quality of life for everyone. Historically, city staff, police, firefighters were required to live in the city they work for. This creates a vested interest in their community. This way of protecting our communities is falling victim to market prices. I would support interest-free loans for down payments and manufactured home developments.”

Lindsay Bell: “Affordable housing is defined as housing (rental or purchase) that costs no more than 30 percent of annual household income. I believe the city can and should play an important role in facilitating affordable housing, especially for the workforce. I support the affordable housing strategies laid out in the 2003 General Plan such as granting density increases to development that includes a minimum percentage of moderately priced housing.”

Matt Hein: “Definition: rare … in this area. The city should help in encouraging affordable housing, and the developers can help with choices (high-end housing as well as moderately priced homes in the same development). I would inform responsible buyers about existing “assistance” programs, and work to provide a way for people who work here to live here.”

Council candidates

Robert Behnke: “There are many federal definitions for affordable. Our local needs should be directed toward housing for police, fire, teachers, medical support personnel and the like. The city should stay away from getting directly involved with government subsidies whether from federal or state levels. Private enterprise should be encouraged to upgrade existing homes and apartments. Having mandatory affordable housing within the city limits is counterproductive based on current market conditions.”

Bob Roecker: Affordable housing means direct government subsidy or waiving of certain fees to help lower-income citizens’ access to purchase a home. I support the concept of a balanced community, but I would look to the developer to be inclusive of this housing within the development, not a separate area or set aside for this purpose.”

Howard Mechanic: “Don’t you think someone who works full-time at a good job should be able to afford food, clothing and shelter? That’s not the case for much of Prescott’s workforce. The market can’t and won’t solve the problem alone. New annexed areas should provide 20 percent of their housing units for average Prescott workers. I would look much more favorably upon rezonings that provide some workforce housing.”

Robert Luzius: “Affordable housing is housing the lower and middle class can afford. I would advocate developing better paying jobs in the City of Prescott with a livable wage, thereby making existing housing affordable. We must go against the ‘Good Ole Boy’ attitude of keeping existing jobs at sub-par wages and increase the scope of our Economic Development Department and aggressively pursue higher paying jobs and clean industry for Prescott.”

Lenny Porges: “The federal government defines affordable housing as costing no more than 27 percent of net income. The city should promote affordable/workforce housing from two directions: a livable wage ordinance requiring the city and any business contracting with it to pay a livable wage, currently about $11 per hour, and by leveraging federal, state and private grant money to offer no-interest loans to help with down payments or security deposits. These are loans not subsidies, which eventually will be repaid and used to create additional affordable housing opportunities.”

Alan Dubiel: “Housing affordable to our median wage earners is in short supply and should be encouraged. The city should offer the regulatory, procedural and program incentives of the General Plan. Incentives for developers to include housing choices within developments and incentives to new home buyers in the form of reimbursed buy-in and impact fees should be considered. We all benefit from having the workforce live nearby.”

John Steward: “I do support affordable housing. I am currently on our CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) committee looking at how to best use the funds. It is a very controversial issue, but Prescott is for everyone, not a select few. If we can help people in some way in purchasing a home here when they might not otherwise be able to, I am for it. But we need to look at the best use of our money and look at how we can affect the most people.”

Bob Bell: “Affordable housing is defined as subsidizing, or taking other steps to decrease the cost of housing. We have assigned Steve Gaber to work with NACOG (Northern Arizona Council of Governments) and HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) toward providing this in Prescott.”

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